Sunday, September 11, 2011

Losing an Old Friend

It's odd, but it's almost like divorce. A big part of my life is in the process of leaving me.

Friday evening, Ohio State University announced the sale of WOSU-AM to St. Gabriel radio.

I knew it was coming. The writing had been on the wall for a long time. Yet seeing the announcement of the sale in writing seemed untimely. Unreal.

WOSU-AM has been a part of my broadcast life since 1987. I was hired in January of that year to host the afternoon segment of Big Band Saturday. Over time as programs came and went, I was finally assigned a permanent part-time hosting spot in the rotation for the popular Bluegrass Ramble program.

But the station dates back to time even before my fathers' birth.

In 1922, WOSU's predecessor, WEAO, went on the air at a Neil and 17th avenue location. The station is one of the 10 oldest continuous operating radio stations in the country and the oldest in Columbus. WEAO, which stood for Willing Energetic Athletic Ohio, was renamed WOSU in 1933. The station had at least one other campus location until it moved into the Fawcett Center in the early 70's.

For many years, WOSU operated as a "daytime" only station meaning it was only on the air during daylight hours. In the late 80's, night authority was obtained and the station began operating between 18 and 24 hours per day, depending on funding available. It was thought at the time that by being allowed to broadcast on a regular morning time period and evening broadcasts throughout the year, the station would obtain more listeners. And for a brief time it did. But as listener habits shifted away from AM to FM, WOSU began to feel the tug of lost listeners. In January 2011, all AM programming shifted to the FM was the AM was marketed for sale.

Based on the announcement, a buyer has been found.

It is for the long term best, yet it's difficult to let go of an old radio frequency friend. May the new owners take care and nuture the station once the keys are officially turned over to them in late 2011 or 2012.

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