WKZO (AM)

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This article is about an AM radio station licensed to Kalamazoo, Michigan. For the Kalamazoo TV station formerly known as WKZO-TV, see WWMT.
WKZO
City of license Kalamazoo, Michigan
Broadcast area [1] (Daytime)
[2] (Nighttime)
Branding AM 590 WKZO
Frequency 590 kHz
First air date 1923 (experimental as 8AZ 1922-1923)
Format News-Talk
Power 5,000 watts
Class B
Facility ID 54485
Callsign meaning W KalamaZOo
Owner Midwest Communications
Sister stations WNWN, WNWN-FM, WQLR, WVFM, WZOX
Webcast Listen Live
Website wkzo.com

WKZO (590 AM) is a radio station licensed to Kalamazoo, Michigan broadcasting a news-talk format. The station offers local shows The Lori Moore Show, The Richard Piet Show and The Jim McKinney Show to go along with syndicated programming in the evening and the midday hours.

Syndicated programming includes Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin,the popular Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, and Dave Ramsey in the afternoon to go along with local programming every Saturday morning.

The station is also the Kalamazoo radio home of Michigan State Spartans football and basketball as well as Detroit Tigers baseball during the summer and Detroit Lions football in the fall.

History[edit]

The station has been on the air as WKZO since 1931, but traces its roots back to 8AZ, an experimental station founded by John Fetzer in 1922 while he was a student at Emmanuel Christian College (now Andrews University) in Berrien Springs. The success of the experimental station (which was heard as far away as France) encouraged the college to look into starting a "real" radio station. The result was KFGZ, 'The Radio Lighthouse,' licensed in April 1923 and broadcasting at 1120 kilocycles with 500 watts of power. KFGZ's calls were changed in 1925 to WEMC. KFGZ/WEMC operated as a full-service radio station serving the St. Joseph Valley with community information and religious programming. The station was received across the eastern United States and into Canada, and a reception report once came in from a Dutch ship in the North Sea.

Despite the station's popularity, the fact that it operated non-commercially and the fact that the college was unwilling to allow the station to solicit financial donations from listeners ultimately sealed its fate, and by 1930, the college was looking to sell the station. Fetzer then purchased the station himself for $2,500. He essentially ran the station as a one-man job, serving as technician, engineer, disc jockey, and sales staff. When the Great Depression struck, Fetzer decided to move WEMC to Kalamazoo, which at the time was the largest city in Michigan that did not yet have its own radio station. The station began operations as WKZO in September, 1931, and soon became a success.

Fetzer continued to own WKZO until his death in 1991, in later years operating it as a full-service MOR/adult contemporary music station and as a CBS Radio affiliate. Billboard magazine named WKZO Adult Contemporary Station of the Year in 1977, and the station was subsequently honored by the Michigan state legislature with a concurrent resolution of tribute.

Following the station's sale after Fetzer's death, WKZO converted to its present news/talk format in the early 1990s.

Andrews University would return to the broadcasting business in 1971, when the school signed on WAUS, a classical music station at 90.9 (later 90.7) on the FM dial.

WKZO's daytime signal provides at least secondary coverage of nearly all of West Michigan, as well as Lansing and South Bend. At night, it switches to a highly directional four-tower setup, resulting in spotty coverage even in Kalamazoo's close-in suburbs. To solve this problem, in 2010 owner Midwest Communications began airing most of AM 590 as WKZO-FM. The two stations simulcast the same programming for most of the day, though the FM side breaks off to air Western Michigan Broncos football and basketball and hockey.

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 42°20′55″N 85°33′48″W / 42.34861°N 85.56333°W / 42.34861; -85.56333