|Broadcast area||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Slogan||All you really wanna hear is sports!|
|Translator(s)||W266DR 101.1 FM Waukesha|
(Currently off air)
|First air date||May 1, 1964|
|Callsign meaning||WAUKesha (city of license for the 1510 frequency)|
|Former callsigns||WYLO (1964–1995)|
|Owner||Good Karma Brands |
(Good Karma Brands Milwaukee, LLC)
|Sister stations||WKTI, WTMJ, WTLX, WMVP|
WAUK (540 AM ESPN) is a radio station licensed to the Washington County community of Jackson, Wisconsin, serving the Milwaukee area. It is known on-air as 540 ESPN. Since June 2019, WAUK has mainly carried the master national ESPN Radio schedule with some diversions for local content. The station's studios are based streetside in "The Blue @ 310 West" building on West Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee, the same building Wisconsin Public Radio's WHAD (90.7) also broadcasts from.
The station is owned by Beaver Dam-based Good Karma Brands (formerly Good Karma Broadcasting, LLC), and owned by Craig Karmazin, son of legendary radio executive and current Sirius XM Radio CEO Mel Karmazin. It is the local rival of Entercom's all-sports station WSSP (1250), and to a lesser extent WOKY (920), which simulcasts Madison's WTSO (1070). WKTI (94.5) in Milwaukee serves as a sister station carrying mainly local sports talk content, and both stations are sisters to WTLX (100.5) in Madison, which is its sister station to west in the state capital city; additionally, WTMJ (620) in Milwaukee is a sister station carrying news/talk and major sports play-by-play, and as of September 2019, Disney-owned WMVP (1000) in Chicago is managed directly by Good Karma. The station is among the few independent affiliates of ESPN Radio whose webstream is carried on the network's mobile apps, and whose website is hosted on ESPN.com.
The station signed on in 1964 with the call sign WYLO, which stood for "Way Low" (the station's position on the AM dial). WYLO ran a country format for many years before switching to Christian programming. From 1995 to 2001, the WZER call sign was used, prior to briefly returning to WYLO and finally, WRRD.
Prior to the sale to current owner Good Karma Broadcasting, Salem Communications owned the property and programmed a Christian-oriented religious format, though as WRRD, it never carried any of the talk personalities usually associated with Salem-owned stations. The station's now-former WRRD calls come from Salem's branding of the station, "The Word".
GKB took over operation of the signal on February 7, 2008, moving the format of the former WAUK (1510) from that daytime-limited signal to the full-time 24/7 signal of WRRD. Formerly, ESPN Radio was heard on WAUK during the day, and WMCS (1290) from 6pm-6am since January 1, 2005 under the branding Milwaukee's ESPN Radio - 1510 Days/1290 Nights. On February 12, 2008, WAUK's call letters were switched to the 540 frequency, with the WRRD calls moving to 1510.
The new "540 ESPN" simulcasts continued with 1510 AM until May 5, 2008, when Good Karma converted the new WRRD to ESPN Deportes Radio, a Spanish language sports talk format. WMCS's time brokering arrangement with WAUK ended on June 30, 2008, when the station reclaimed their nighttime hours for the music and community talk format the station aired the rest of the day until a March 2013 format change to standards as WZTI. On November 1, 2018, following Good Karma Brands' acquisition of WTMJ (620) and WKTI (94.5) from the E.W. Scripps Company, WKTI began simulcasting WAUK's programming as "94.5 ESPN FM".
As of June 2019, Good Karma has chosen to split WAUK and WKTI into a common scheduling tactic where one station mainly carries the master ESPN Radio national schedule, as WAUK now does, while the other carries mainly local content, which WKTI does. The only diversion WAUK takes from the national ESPN schedule on a regularly scheduled day is the absence of The Will Cain Show for carriage of ESPN Milwaukee Podcenter, which compiles best-of content for the afternoon drive and is hosted by Doug Russell. ESPN Radio commercial breaks, where contractually possible, also carry this same best-of and additional sponsored content in order to limit listener tune-out.
WAUK and WKTI are the flagships of the Marquette University Golden Eagles. The station also airs play-by-play coverage of Major League Baseball, the College Football Playoff and the NBA from ESPN Radio.
Until 2011, the station had also been the Milwaukee home of NASCAR radio coverage from all three NASCAR radio networks, as well as the LTN Hour radio show since its inception in 1985 and the Racing Roundup show. On the November 27 edition of the LTN Hour, it was announced that WAUK would be dropping all racing programming by the end of 2011, with racing play-by-play acquired days later by Clear Channel's classic country station, WOKY (920), which eventually would go to a mixed format in January 2013 of sports talk from WTSO and Fox Sports and NBC Sports Radio programming. Clear Channel, currently known as iHeartMedia, gained the rights to Wisconsin Badgers sports for the Milwaukee market in 2014 for WAUK and WRIT-FM, usurping WAUK's limited role of airing football and basketball games pre-empted by WTMJ (620) due to rights conflicts.
WAUK operates with only 400 watts, largely to protect CBK in Watrous, Saskatchewan, a clear-channel station also on 540 AM. Despite its modest power, WAUK's signal covers a relatively substantial area due to its low dial position and Wisconsin's flat land.
- "Home". Good Karma Brands. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
- JS Online: Pack prepares, just in case
- JS Online: Spanish-only on AM-1510
- JS Online: WMCS-AM radio ends ESPN feed, goes talk and music
- Kirchen, Rich (October 26, 2018). "Station buyer Craig Karmazin will flip "KTI Country" to ESPN affiliate". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- "WKTI (94.5 ESPN)-WAUK/Milwaukee Unveil New Lineups". All Access Radio Group. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
- ESPN Wisconsin (combined official site for WAUK, WRRD & WTLX)
- Milwaukee radio: a retrospective
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WAUK
- Radio-Locator Information on WAUK
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WAUK
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W266DR
- Radio-Locator information on W266DR
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for W266DR