Traverse City – Classic Hits 107.5 (FM)
WCCW-FM is an FM combination in Traverse City, Michigan, United States, consisting of WCCW-FM in Traverse City and relaying station WCZW in Charlevoix. The station is owned by the Midwestern Broadcasting group, which to this day includes the family members of its original partners from the early 1940s, the Biedermans, Kikers and McClays.
Midwestern, parent company of WTCM and WTCM-FM, acquired its long-time “local competitor” WCCW in 1996. “Classic Hits 107-5” is the highly-rated FM station in the area, while the AM station, “ESPN Radio 1310” is one of the lowest, according to Arbitron.
WCCW-AM, whose call letters stand for “Cherry Capitol of the World”, signed on in 1960 under the ownership of John Anderson, a former Midwestern employee who ventured out on his own with contemporary ideas and skills learned working for Midwestern as a salesperson in the 1950s.
On November 1, 1967, WCCW added an FM sister at 92.1, which broadcast with 6,000 watts. It was Traverse City’s first late night broadcast signal, as both WTCM and WLDR-FM signed off at 11 p.m. This FM originally had an automated beautiful music format.
In the beginning, WCCW was an MOR-formatted station, but added Top 40 afternoon programming in the late 1960s to appeal to the younger crowd. It was Northwest Michigan’s first truly contemporary format, even though in later-dayparts, and was soon followed by WVOY in Charlevoix about 1974.
For most of the 1970s, the WCCW air staff was:
- Les Foerster – morning
- Michael Bradford – Mid-days
- Michael O’Shea – Afternoons
- Phill Orth – Evenings
- Carolyn Beaudette – Overnights
Jerry Meyer and Bob Burian were both involved in management along with owner John Anderson. Meyer later became operations manager at WTCM in 1976 and went on to co-own Murrays Boats & Motors, was the longtime news anchor for TV 9 & 10, and made a run for state representative.
“Radio Double C” also had Northern Michigan’s earliest avante-garde modern rock programming late at night with the “Pen Ultimate” radio show hosted by Al Vasquez (“Alan White”) and Carolyn Beaudette, and was the home of Traverse City’s first “real” production agency for radio commercials.
Change to Oldies
In the 1980s WCCW felt pressure from regional broadcasters WJML-AM-FM and later WKHQ, and became an Adult Contemporary station (as WMZK) rather that competing for the Contemporary Hit radio audience. It later changed to “oldies” and returned to the WCCW moniker.
Other broadcasters associated with WCCW in and after its hey-day were Lucien Jaye (“The Boogie Man”), Dave Elliot (later with WTCM 14-T) Dave Walker (who later became the longtime news anchor at TV 7&4), Steve Cook (Production Director for WTCM), and Ron Jolly (mornings on WTCM)and Jim Moriarty.
Anderson, who still lives to this day, sold WCCW Radio to the Fabiano Brothers of Mt. Pleasant, a well-known beer distributor. In 1991, WCCW-FM moved to 107.5, increasing their power to 50,000 watts. They had to convince Cherry Capitol Airport to move their frequencies off that area of the band so they could move there.
In 1996, the Fabianos sold WCCW Radio to Ross Biederman for $3 million, who made drastic improvements to the stations. He moved the stations out of the old Michigan Theatre building on Front St. to a Today Show-esque window studio next in the former Midwestern Cablevision building next door to WTCM. He also bought the FM station a new TM Century music collection disc set, ending the station’s relationship with vinyl and tape carts.
One criticism Biederman received since buying WCCW was the fact that the station, once live and local 24/7, started using ABC‘s “OldiesRadio” (formerly “Pure Gold”) feed for overnights and weekends. The station’s overnight DJ, Shawn Michaels, died of a drunk driving accident shortly before the conversion to overnight satellite, though it is unknown if his firing from the station had anything to do with it.
WCCW-FM now once again has live and local personalities during much of the day on Saturday and Sunday, although it continues to air Citadel Media‘s “Greatest Mojo” programming ABC overnights and during some non-critical weekend dayparts. In 2004, WCCW-FM added a new sister station, 6 kW WCZW 107.9 in Charlevoix, which brings WCCW’s programming also to the Petoskey area.
WCCW-FM in recent years has added more 1980s and early 1990s music to their playlist from artists such as A Flock of Seagulls, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Duran Duran, angering traditional oldies fans. The station also more recently switched from its longtime Oldies 107-5 name to Classic Hits 107-5. Nonetheless, the ratings are still excellent, led by a popular airstaff, which includes morning man Charlie DiStefano, aka “Charlie D.“, middayer Dave Gauthier, afternoon man Lin “Michael O’Shea” McNitt and nighttimer Ron Pritchard.
Pritchard replaced David Fortney on nights in March 2006 with Fortney taking the role of Production Director. O’Shea has been with WCCW off-and-on since the 1960s while Fortney’s been a fixture in northern Michigan radio since the 1980s as one of the first rock jocks on WKLT. Pritchard spent 10 years the Program Director and Afternoon Driver at WKHQ, and once hosted weekend talk shows on the Michigan Talk Network.
- Query the FCC’s FM station database for WCCW
- Radio-Locator information on WCCW
- Query Arbitron’s FM station database for WCCW
- Query the FCC’s FM station database for WCZW
- Radio-Locator information on WCZW
- Query Arbitron’s FM station database for WCZW