|City||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Branding||ann arbor's 107one|
|Slogan||Quality Music From Then & Now|
|First air date||February 14, 1967|
|Format||Adult Album Alternative|
|Callsign meaning||KooL 107 (previous branding)|
|Former callsigns||WAMX (4/3/89-12/24/92)
(Cumulus Licensing LLC)
|Sister stations||WLBY, WTKA, WWWW-FM|
WQKL, known on the air as ann arbor's 107one, is a radio station broadcasting from Ann Arbor, Michigan. WQKL is a Cumulus radio station, co-owned with country WWWW-FM 102.9, Sports Talk WTKA 1050, and WLBY 1290. Although the station broadcasts with only 3,000 watts of power, it can be heard quite easily in many of the western Detroit suburbs. WSAQ in Port Huron and WTLZ in Saginaw both occupy this frequency to the east and north and interference often occurs as you move north-east.
What is now WQKL can be traced back to WPAG-FM, the FM arm of AM 1050, which is now sports-talk WTKA. WPAG-FM originally operated at 98.7 FM from 1947-53. WPAG was granted a license to resurrect its FM station at the current 107.1 frequency in 1967, but it was not until 1969 that the station finally went on the air. Through the end of the 1970s, WPAG-FM 107.1 simulcast the middle of the road format of WPAG during the day but separated programming during the evening hours. Originally WPAG-FM aired folk and rock music from 7 p.m. to midnight; this was changed in 1972 to an eclectic country format including bluegrass, folk, and old Western music. By the mid-1970s, WPAG-FM was also playing beautiful music on weekends.
By 1980, the population of Ann Arbor had topped 100,000, and due to FCC rules, 107.1 FM would have to come up with a new format to truly distinguish itself from its AM sister. The first decision was to convert the eclectic country shows on WPAG-FM into a full-time format, but after a few months the country format was ditched in favor of automated Top 40. This format was also a failure, and by the summer of 1982, WPAG-FM had reverted to a full-time easy listening/beautiful music format. Through all these changes, the station remained a virtually invisible presence on the Ann Arbor dial.
Mix 107 and Kool 107
In 1989, WPAG-FM was acquired by Domino's Pizza mogul Tom Monaghan. The station changed its calls to WAMX and became Mix 107 FM, Ann Arbor's Best Mix, playing a locally programmed mixture of smooth jazz, new age music, and soft pop and soul vocals. WPAG's calls were changed to "WPZA" (meaning "pizza," as in "Domino's"). Three years later, the station was acquired by MW Blue Partnership, and the calls and format changed once again, to WQKL as Kool 107, Ann Arbor's Official Oldies Station. One of Kool 107's most memorable on-air liners declared, "Kool 107 plays great oldies because today's music... sucks!" Local radio icon Lucy Ann Lance hosted Kool 107's morning show. Former KOOL 107 PD Dave Anthony and MD Greg Stucki resurfaced in York, PA at 96.1 WSOX in 1998. Anthony has since left the station in 2007 to go to Pittsburgh as Program Director of Froggy network.
In the fall of 1998, Kool 107 dropped virtually all of the pre-1965 music on its playlist and began to supplement the oldies format with hits from 1975-1990, from artists like Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis and the News, Toto, Sade, and The Pointer Sisters. The new Classic Hits-oriented music mix was tagged "Adult Contemporary Gold," although the station retained the "Kool 107" moniker. By 1999 Cumulus Media owned the station, and took a further step toward evolving the format to AC by adding Delilah's syndicated love-songs show for the evening hours. In 2000, Clear Channel Communications acquired the station from Cumulus Media. Clear Channel slowly evolved WQKL's format closer and closer to AC over the next several years, and by 2003 the station was playing some current AC chart hits despite remaining primarily oldies-based. Yet the station continued to flounder in the local ratings, with its Arbitron showings ranging from mediocre to awful, and Kool 107 was regularly defeated in the Ann Arbor market by its own Detroit-based Clear Channel AC sister station, WNIC. Kool 107 also lost Lucy Ann Lance around this time; she eventually surfaced doing the morning show at talk-formatted competitor WAAM and remained there until she was laid off at the end of 2007 due to budget cuts. She now hosts a late-morning show at WQKL's sister station, 1290 AM WLBY.
ann arbor's 107one
On June 26, 2004, "Kool 107" signed off for good and then Program Director Rob Walker and General manager Bob Bolak created ann arbor's 107one. WQKL's ratings have since improved noticeably. Current 107one morning show host Martin Bandyke is a longtime veteran of Detroit's WDET, who was let go from the Wayne State University-owned station as part of programming changes that resulted in the station dropping all of its daytime music shows in favor of NPR news and talk.
WQKL tags its format as Quality Music From Then & Now. The format is a Triple A/Modern Adult Contemporary mix including artists such as U2, Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette, Goo Goo Dolls, Sheryl Crow, Sting, David Gray, KT Tunstall, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode, The Pretenders, Tom Petty, Natalie Merchant, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Tracy Chapman, and John Mellencamp.
In August 2006, it was announced that Clear Channel's radio stations in Ann Arbor and Battle Creek would be traded to Cumulus in exchange for rocker WRQK in Canton, Ohio, meaning that WQKL and its sister stations would once again be under the Cumulus umbrella. The deal was announced as official in late December 2006. WQKL also now has a competitor in the Triple A format in CIDR-FM 93.9 "The River" in Windsor, Ontario, which in September 2006 reverted to the format and on-air positioner it had used previously from 1994 to 2000. CIDR, however, has performed poorly in both the Windsor and Detroit ratings and has had no impact on the Ann Arbor ratings.
WQKL is known for "New Music Mondays" and "Featured Artist Fridays". During Featured Artist Fridays, the station plays a certain artist once an hour through the whole day to celebrate a new album, an artists' birthday, an event in music history or an artist coming to the area. Featured Artist Friday tends to avoid playing the same everyday songs from the artist and focus on new tracks, album tracks, covers they've done, demos and live music.
WQKL and Borders Books (headquartered in Ann Arbor) hosted free live music performances/CD signings and broadcast these performances live on the air. Artists like Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls and Suzanne Vega were featured at events at Borders original store on Liberty Street in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor; these events ended when Borders closed in 2011. In addition, the station's Christmas-season "Rockin' for the Hungry" food drive (a holdover from the station's days as Kool 107), which benefits Food Gatherers of Washtenaw County, is generally quite successful.
While the station's ratings overall (ages 12+) are fairly average, WQKL has done very well in its target demographic of adults aged 25–54; in spring 2009, both major survey companies ranked the station #1 in this demo, ahead of its country-music powerhouse sister station WWWW-FM and of Detroit's WJR, which usually is Ann Arbor's top-ranked station overall.
Martin Bandyke was let go from WQKL in February 2009 due to budget cuts, but, in a surprising move given the current radio climate, was rehired a few weeks later due to an outcry from listeners (who even started a protest group on the social networking website Facebook) and advertisers. Bandyke returned to WQKL was March 2, 2009, and has remained in the morning slot ever since. (1)