|City of license||Charlevoix, Michigan|
|Broadcast area||Traverse City-Petoskey|
|Slogan||Northern Michigan's #1 Hit Music Channel|
|First air date||May 8, 1980|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)|
|Former callsigns||WKHQ (5/8/80-4/8/85)|
|Owner||MacDonald Garber Broadcasting
(MacDonald Garber Broadcasting, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WATT, WKAD, WLXT, WLXV, WMKT, WMBN, WZTC|
WKHQ-FM is a 100,000-watt radio station licensed to Charlevoix, Michigan, with studios located on U.S. 131 South Petoskey, Michigan and US 31 Acme, Michigan. The Top 40 (CHR) station, located at 105.9 MHz, is known to listeners as 106 KHQ, Northern Michigan's #1 Hit Music Channel.
The station signed on in 1980, but its roots can be traced back to the early 1970s, with the beginning of WVOY, a 5,000-watt daytime-only station at 1270 kHz on the AM dial. WVOY was one of the first all-contemporary-hit-music radio stations in northern Michigan and featured Bill Vogel ("The Captain," formerly of Detroit's WDRQ), John Yaroch, Rick Durkin, and other major-market-quality talent.
Despite WVOY's limited signal, the station became extremely popular and gave northern Michigan listeners a taste of the "big city" radio sound. The station was live during morning and afternoon drive (with Vogel and Yaroch), and "live assist" automation using ITC ("The Cart Machine People") "carousels" and carted music during other time periods.
WKHQ Signs On
After many years of expensive and time-consuming legal wrangling over a hotly contested 100 kW FM license (mostly with religious broadcast proponent Roland Cilke), the station's owners, Tim Ives and Elmo Franklin, sold an interest to former WVOY salesperson and air talent Tim Moore, who had worked with TM Programming Broadcast consultants in the interim since his departure from WVOY in the mid-1970s. Moore's parents mortgaged their home and property to help him finance his purchase of stock and finance the expansion of WVOY into WKHQ in 1980. Moore later purchased the interests of Ives and Franklin at a pre-arranged contract price.
The call letters Moore chose were WKHQ, named after a legendary Spokane, WA radio and TV combo, KHQ. The station signed on May 8, 1980, using TM Programming's "Stereo Rock" format, and quickly shot up to the top of the ratings thanks to its polished jocks and upbeat music. In its early years, WKHQ was known as "The Rhythm of the Northwest" (referring, of course, to northwestern Michigan), and its TM "Stereo Rock" jingles used that slogan. WVOY-AM, in the meantime, flipped to a Music of Your Life format, although the station would return to simulcasting the FM later in the 1980s as WKHQ-AM. The station is now WMKT, "News/Talk 1270."
Moore sold the station in the mid-1980s to Midwest Family, only to recover it a few years later. He sold it again to Cadillac Media who also ended up having financial problems, and again became the owner.
WKHQ vs. WKPK
In 1994, KHQ and 1270, now Talk station WMKT, was sold to Trish MacDonald-Garber, who owned WMBN 1340 and WLXT 96.3, aka Lite 96. With the ownership change, MacDonald-Garber transitioned KHQ to more of a Hot AC, causing rival 106.7 The Peak to boost their teenage audience even further. KHQ's liners would blast The Peak for being "the rap station", while The Peak's liners would blast KHQ for being too corny. As a result, by the late 1990s, KHQ would be a full-blown CHR again, but in the interim, WKPK became the dominant CHR signal and the #1 station in most areas that KHQ had once "owned".
In 2000, 106.7 The Peak flipped to Hot AC, leaving KHQ all to itself in the CHR arena. With the format all to itself, KHQ again ventured into Adult CHR territory, with only a limited number of rap tracks. It has been said that part of the reason for this was that in 2001, Williams Chevrolet in Traverse City, one of the station's biggest sponsors, dropped all of their ads because the station played Eminem's "Without Me" early in the morning. The station compromised with the car dealer by only playing rap at night when advertisers weren't making huge buys (and when teenagers were most likely to be listening).
The station's most-recognized personality was long-running morning man Bill "The Captain" Vogel, who hosted the station's morning show from 1983 to 2001 (and had worked at KHQ's predecessor, WVOY-AM, before that). While at KHQ, Vogel was known for his on-air signature catchphrase "Get the heck outta bed!". Vogel left KHQ in 2001 to focus on being a talk radio host on the Michigan Talk Radio Network (MTRN), only to quit due to the network's money troubles. He now owns a successful voice-over business, where he does network spots for CBS and is the announcer for the FOX sketch comedy show Mad TV. Original line-up in 1980: Tim Moore-mornings; Mike Daniels-middays; Bob Harper-afternoons; Carey Carlson-nights; John Borders-voice tracked 10p-6a; Bob White-morning news; Cindy Smith-afternoon news. Other personalities in the 80's: Rob Hazelton, Jim Owen, Chet Jessick, Mark Cage, Mike Sommers; Christopher Knight.
The departure of the Captain would be the start of many defections by high profile personalities, including "Storm" Kennedy, Keith Michaels, Lisa Knight, and Ron Pritchard, who programmed the station for most of the late 90's through the mid-2000s.
Today, WKHQ is still Northern Michigan's #1 rated CHR station and #1 "cume-ing" station overall.
Current on-air line up: 6–10 am Heather Leigh (Formerly Mornings at WKHQ/ WKPK) and Aaron (Formerly KKHQ Waterloo, IA), 10–2 pm Lisa Knight, 2–7 pm Fish (Formerly WJZJ, WKHQ Nights, and made cameos with the Captain in the late 90s), 7pm-Midnight Scotty (Formerly weekends WDZH Detroit). Behind the scenes Aaron Santini (Former PD KKHQ Waterloo, IA) is the Program Director.
Current voice over talent is Randy Cox (www.coxvox.com). The change of voice occurred after the passing of longtime voice talent Brian James.
WKHQ had a number of packages sung by TM now TM Studios. However, on May 17, 2009 the station began to use ReelWorld One CHR with the Kiss L.A logo.
As of January 2013, WKHQ revamped its image completely, dropping jingles all together in favor of using sweepers and liners.
WKHQ competes with Z-93 WJZQ, the market's only other CHR station.
- Michiguide.com - WKHQ History
- http://www.allaccess.com All Access - Industry Directory
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WKHQ
- Radio-Locator information on WKHQ
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WKHQ