CHIPPEWA FALLS (WQOW) – After 54 years on the air, WCFW 105.7 FM, a staple of Chippewa Valley radio, has made the decision to sell.
Roland Bushland and his wife, Pat, began broadcasting WCFW, known for its polka hits, adult contemporary tunes and high school sports, in 1968.
He said he previously owned a recording studio, but wanted to switch to radio when FM signals hit the airways. It was new technology with clearer sound, and he said times were different back then.
“We were the third FM in Eau Claire. Now there are about 20,” Bushland said. “Both FMs on the air were playing elevator music. We came as a radio station.”
The move paid off: he said they were the number one FM station in the Chippewa Valley for a few years. However, in 1975 he said that all AM stations had moved and their ratings had been in the middle ever since. Bushland said he was happy with the position and was grateful to WCFW listeners.
“We’ve struggled over the years, but we’re still here,” Bushland remarked.
The station’s director of operations, Paul Sokup, said they still had soundtracks, or carts, as they’re called in the radio world. Despite decades of playing, they still sound clear enough for the airwaves.
Bushland said that while the years at the station have passed, time flies. They adapted to a changing industry without changing their lineup, but now he said there was no way they could keep up.
“It was pretty fun. But 54 years is quite a long time,” Bushland said. “The way things are going in the business climate, it’s not good for the little guys. So we have to go with the big guys.”
For the past 10 years, Bushland has said he and Pat have considered quitting radio.
Another family business, Magnum Media, is made up of longtime fans. They contacted the couple when they learned they were selling.
“We were lucky enough to go and meet Rollie and Pat and do the tour, and it’s such an amazing facility that they built from scratch and kept going,” said Reid Magnum, vice president of Magnum Media. “It’s such an honor for us that they chose my family for the chance to continue what they’ve built. My mom and dad started our band from scratch 31 years ago.”
Magnum said they have 24 other Wisconsin stations and are excited to plug into the Chippewa Valley. Bushland said he was sure they would take care of 105.7.
The sale is pending FCC approval. They think that after a few months, the change will be final. For now, it will be business as usual for Roland and Pat.
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