On Friday at noon, as WCLO shifted into our regular mid-day programming, the main studio mics were silenced for the last time. The studio where I created my career will likely never host WCLO programming again as we relocate our broadcast facilities.
It’s been 33 years since I first walked the third-floor hallways of The Gazette building as a part-time commercial writer with no real history or knowledge of Janesville, The Gazette or WCLO. I certainly had no idea it would become a place where a career would take root. Nurtured by kind, mentoring and experienced professionals like Dan Janis, Bill Bessire and Bob Dailey, time passed (quickly, it turns out).
I moved from part time to full time and from writer to producer, promotional director, program director, talk show host and operations manager. I’ve spent more consecutive years at the WCLO/WJVL radio studio location than anywhere else in my lifetime to date so moving into new facilities will be bittersweet, even if we are only going 50 yards or so to the south. As the longest-serving staff member at WCLO/WJVL, I’ve become the voluntary keeper of history—tapes, photos and other souvenirs.
There’s comfort in knowing those memories are moving with us. And as I ponder the past and the future, I realize that fortune has smiled on me in many ways. I will have a much easier transition than those I watched end up with no where to go when Parker Pen moved out and GM closed. The entire WCLO/WJVL family has been welcomed with open arms into our new family at Big Radio and afforded the luxury of staying right here.
While I leave behind familiar surroundings, across the parking lot, our staff will discover new ways of creating compelling radio in state-of-the-art studios. I get to keep my job. I get to continue working with my same staff members, and I get to continue to visit with friends who listen in to the talk show each day. I even gained some new radio family members in the process. In almost every way, I could not be more blessed. Yet, there is that little tug of sadness in my heart knowing an era is ending.
Before I ever thought of a broadcasting career, I remember watching the final episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” on television (March 19, 1977). The show’s WJM-TV newsroom depicted a staff who were as much friends as coworkers and felt just like radio does for me today. I remember that empty feeling of loss when Mary turned out the lights for the last time, marking the end of the series.
I felt the same way on Friday.
WCLO is a very special place, built by a family who understood what it meant to truly serve a community. It was my great privilege to work for and with the Bliss family for 33 years in the studios they built. On Friday, that chapter concluded for WCLO.
On Monday, we turn a page and begin broadcasting without our physical Gazette foundation. Like any timeless story, this new chapter will build on the chapters before it. I am convinced that there are no better people to finish the story than Ben and Scott Thompson and the people of Big Radio. Here comes the future.
Thanks for the memories so far. I’m looking forward to many more.
Tim Bremel hosts “Your Talk Show” on WCLO.