After 30 years with Bliss Communications, Mike O’Brien, the general manager of Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting’s WCLO and WJVL radio stations, is retiring.
On Monday, during an announcement that Bliss Communications is selling the radio stations along with The Gazette newspaper to two family-owned companies, CEO Sidney “Skip” Bliss noted that O’Brien will retire this summer.
O’Brien has been with Bliss since 1988. He said the timing of his retirement dovetails with the sale of WCLO and WJVL to local radio group Big Radio, but the sale and his retirement otherwise are not linked.
“The timing is very much a family consideration, in spite of the necessary focus and effort that comes with the broadcast business. My wife, Patty, has always been primary in my life,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he sought to announce his retirement early this year, but Bliss management had asked him to hold off on the announcement. O’Brien said he later learned Bliss’ holdings were being sold.
O’Brien said he’s proud to be part of a media company with a core of long-tenured employees. He said Bliss Communications cared greatly about providing quality local media.
“I always said, ‘Even if I’m here for 30 years, they’ll probably still be calling me the new guy,’” O’Brien said. “But that’s been the nature of this company. People join the family, and they stay. And they grow, and they excel.”
O’Brien said he’s perhaps most proud of how he says Bliss Communications radio stations he’s managed fought through the tough years following the Great Recession and the departure of General Motors from Janesville.
O’Brien plans to continue to work as a marketing consultant. He’ll retire from WCLO and WJVL sometime in July, once the two stations complete a federal licensing change to new ownership by Big Radio.
“Ben Thompson (Big Radio CEO) is not just buying radio towers and transmitters. He’s buying two outstanding radio stations with awesome people, people that turn great broadcasting into smart marketing vehicles,” O’Brien said.
“Ben is going to be surrounded by a talented and dedicated team.”