We received the following information from WION about broadcasting in Lowell.
WION Radio – Ionia’s “I-1430″
1150 Haynor Rd, Ionia, MI 48846
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 15, 2019
Cooperative Effort Between Broadcasters Creates New Radio Option for Eastern Kent County!
In this day of competition and corporate red tape, sometimes it’s good old-fashioned relationships that make good things happen!
Over a decade ago, Al Eckman of Lowell brought a group of young people from his local amateur radio club to tour WION (AM) Ionia, MI. From that day, a relationship was built. One student became part of the WION team for a number of years, and WION kept ties with Al and with Lowell. Lowell High School at the time had an internet streaming radio station and a very low power small AM station heard only on parts of the campus.
A few years later, WION’s Jim Carlyle encouraged the school to file for what’s called a “Low Power FM” (LPFM) radio station, and guided Al Eckman to WION’s engineering firm (Munn-Reese of Coldwater, MI) and to FCC attorney Matt McCormick, now with Fletcher, Heald, and Hildreth in Virginia. The result was the beginning of a ‘real’ radio experience for interested students at Lowell High School on WRWW-LP.
For over a decade, WION has been helping the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce promote Lowell events in Ionia County through radio. Liz Baker, the Chamber’s director has became a semi-regular voice on WION’s morning show, and the Lowell Chamber is a regular advertiser. It’s a wonderful, growing, fun relationship. Lowell may be across the county line, but it’s close to Ionia, and part of our AM primary coverage area…so much so that WION has broadcast from the yearly Lowell Community Expo for at least 10 years!
WION added FM 92-7 nearly 10years ago to serve areas of Ionia County deprived of signal at night due to mother nature’s bouncing of AM signals, and FCC regulations. Then in 2018 came the chance to file for an additional FM signal. Lowell was chosen because of existing relationships, and the possibility to locate transmission on an existing City-owned tower with a shared FM antenna.
While it’s unusual for a non-commercial/educational LPFM to share transmission resources with a commercial station, when the idea was posed to Al Eckman that WION share their broadcast antenna and transmitter location, the answer was, “Yes.” When Mr. Eckman took it to the Lowell Schools’ Superintendent, the answer was the same. And, when the need arose to ask Lowell City Manager Mike Burns for permission to locate WION transmission equipment in the building housing both Lowell City and Lowell school radio equipment, his answer was also, “Yes!”
What is likely a rare example of an LPFM station sharing transmission equipment with an AM into FM translator began, and Lowell, Michigan now hosts WION’s FM 100.3 WION has contributed some improved engineering ideas to the Lowell School’s station, and while FCC rules prohibit sharing of programming, WION looks forward to helping students develop their talents for possible future broadcasting with WION or other stations! .
Some Lowell residents may recall the Lowell Schools’ station impact on WION’s “Treasures for Troops” last fall. WION invited Lowell High School students to help collect items and spread the word in Lowell about this important event. Students from WRWW-LP (the school station) opted to publicize the cause, and collected hundreds of pounds of items for our deployed military…enough to fill a large GM S.U.V. The Proceeds were then brought to WION during a broadcast from the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce offices, and it was a great effort that we hope will repeat yearly. The produced their own announcements on the high school station to push the collection and were later interviewed on WION during the Lowell Chamber wrap-up broadcast in November of 2018.
The two stations differ in offerings. The student station, WRWW-LP continues to cover school events, community events, and more…while teaching students the basics of radio, and WION brings it’s “full service’ style of broadcasting to Lowell
Both stations are proud of their long-term relationship and how it now works to the benefit of both.