|Broadcast area||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Branding||94.5 KTI Country|
Milwaukee's NEW Country|
|Frequency||94.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||June 1959 (as WTMJ-FM)|
HD2: News/Talk (WTMJ simulcast)
WKTI-FM (1982-2008, 2015)
E.W. Scripps Company |
(Scripps Broadcasting Holdings LLC)
|Sister stations||WTMJ, WTMJ-TV|
WKTI ("94.5 KTI Country") is a Country Music radio station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin broadcasting at 94.5 MHz. The station is owned by the E.W. Scripps Company. The company owns WTMJ (AM) and WTMJ-TV. WKTI maintains studio facilities located on Capitol Drive in Milwaukee (this Art Deco facility is known as "Radio City" in tribute to the New York complex of the same name). WKTI's transmitter, located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) north of downtown Milwaukee, broadcasts a HD radio signal, with the station airing a simulcast of its talk radio sister station, WTMJ, on its HD2 subchannel.
1940s and 1950s
The owner of the Milwaukee Journal was a pioneer of FM broadcasting. In early 1940, an experimental station, W9XAO started broadcasting. In 1942, the station was called W55M. It broadcast from a 50 kW transmitter located in Richfield, Wisconsin. It was a classical music station for while. One of it's announcers was J Bradley Green, actually WTMJ's Johnathon Green who used a a more sophisticated voice. For a short time in the mid 40s, the station was known as WMFM. After World War II, the station was renamed WTMJ-FM and it moved to the 88-108 MHz band. Initially, WTMJ-FM used the 102.1 FM frequency but struggled for many years, especially when the company began to focus on its new television station. In 1950, the station stopped broadcasting. It returned in 1959 at 94.5 FM, running automated programming for many years.
1970s and 1980s
In 1974, the station changed to a stand-alone automated Top 40 format with the nickname, "I-94" (named after the main east-west interstate highway that runs through Milwaukee). To support the new brand, the owner wanted to change the station's call sign but could not decide on the two middle letters of a new name. The station manager, Jack Lee, proposed WWWI, but DJs were not comfortable about using the tongue-twisting call letters on-air. A sales manager suggested two letters from Katie, his wife's name and so, the call sign was changed to WKTI. I-94 was an automated station promoted as "nonstop stereo rock."
In 1981, live air personalities were employed. In 1982, Bob Reitman anchored WKTI's morning show. The program director, Dallas Cole, added Gene Mueller to the morning show in mid-1982. Lips LaBelle later became the afternoon DJ and promotions director. In late 1982, Danny Clayton became the night DJ and music director. These people worked as a team at WKTI for the next fifteen years. The station experienced steady ratings and growth.
1990s and 2000s
By the early 1990s, WKTI evolved to Hot AC. By about 1999, WXSS-FM began to compete for WKTI's predominantly female audience with music from younger artists. WKTI had a long-standing popular morning show, and so, the station did not make changes in response to the competition. However, slow adjustments were made to WKTI's playlist, changing to the Adult Top 40 format to attract new and younger listeners. The changes included contests and a Friday playlist called Flashback Friday, which featured music from the 1980s.
In late 2005, WKTI adopted an Adult Top 40 format while continuing to play some vintage artists. In September 2006, the station no longer voiced the "W" in its call sign, and the branding changed to 94-5 'KTI, Milwaukee's Hit Music Channel. In late 2006, Bob Reitman semi-retired, moving on to a weekly program on local public radio station WUWM. Gene Mueller continued the morning show with Amy Taylor and Gino Salamone as "Gene, Amy and Gino", until Taylor resigned in April 2007. On May 15, 2007, WKTI and its sister station WTMJ moved Gene Mueller to WTMJ's "Wisconsin Morning News". A new show, Mathew Blades in the Morning, with Blades, Erin Austin, and AJ was launched on WKTI. The station's evening lineup was also changing. Cindy Huber hosted the evening program for two years, but then left the station in a reshuffle and moved to WLDB. The station then chose to air syndicated programming after 7 pm, airing John Tesh's Intelligence for Your Life show, which had a WKTI-programmed playlist interspersed with Tesh's segments of trivia.
In September 2008, WKTI broadcast play-by-play reports for teams normally on WTMJ, which had their broadcasts displaced by radio coverage of another sport. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers broadcasts moved to WKTI to allow Green Bay Packers radio play-by-play reports to air on WTMJ. On September 28, 2008, for the first time in Milwaukee FM radio history, the station aired a Green Bay Packers game (where they played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). On July 22, 2010, WLWK aired a Brewers game, due to WTMJ's coverage of a sudden flash flood situation.
At 12:12 PM on November 6, 2008, the Sophie B. Hawkins song "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" gave way to "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles. After this, Journal Broadcast Group general manager Steve Wexler stepped in to introduce listeners to a complete makeover for 94.5 FM. The station launched a new adult hits format, branded as "The New 94.5 Lake FM". Chicago's "Beginnings" was the first song to be broadcast. With the exception of Matthew Blades, the station's entire airstaff was released with the change.
On November 13, 2008, WKTI officially changed call letters to WLWK-FM. Journal warehoused the WKTI call sign at its adult standards station in Powell, Tennessee (serving the Knoxville market) until Journal's sale of the station to local interests in December 2012. The WKTI calls then moved to the Sturgeon Bay/Door County channel 22 translator for WGBA-TV in Green Bay.
In 2012, WLWK rebranded as "94-5 The Lake."
Journal Communications and The E.W. Scripps Company announced on July 30, 2014 that the two companies would merge to create a new broadcast company under the E.W. Scripps Company name that would own the two companies' broadcast properties, including WLWK-FM, WTMJ radio, and WTMJ-TV. The deal would separate WLWK from the Journal-Sentinel for the first time in its history, as the two companies' newspapers will be spun off into a separate company under the Journal Media Group name. The transaction was completed on April 1, 2015.
On May 29, 2015, at 9 AM, after playing "Pinball Wizard" by The Who and going into a stopset, WLWK began airing The Beatles' album "Abbey Road" in its entirety, with an announcement following the end of side 1 from Scripps Milwaukee Radio's Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer thanking listeners of The Lake and notifying them about a forthcoming format change, followed by side 2, and then ending the "Lake" format with the final song on the album, "The End". At 10 AM, WLWK flipped to Country, resurrecting the WKTI-FM callsign as "94.5 KTI Country", a change that was made FCC-official on June 8, 2015. (The "FM" suffix was dropped a week later as the call letters became simply "WKTI.") The first song on the relaunched "KTI" was "Bartender" by Lady Antebellum. The station became the second Country outlet in Milwaukee with a full-power signal, as it takes on iHeartMedia's heritage rival WMIL in its first head to head battle since 1987, when WMIL took out WBCS, the latter later flipping to Active Rock as WLZR (that station is now WHQG). The call letters of WKTI and WLWK were effectively switched, and WLWK's calls currently reside on the WGBA Sturgeon Bay translator.
Later the same day, Racine station WMKQ flipped from country to adult hits, also branding itself as The Lake with a nearly identical logo. The station's owner, David Magnum, described the abrupt flip as a means of filling a gap created by WKTI's flip; however, the two stations are otherwise unaffiliated with each other, and Magnum's appropriation of WKTI's former branding caught Scripps off-guard. Representatives of both companies indicated that they were in discussions over the matter, and the station has since reserved domain and social media names carrying different brands. WMKQ would rebrand as "The Shore" on June 29.
- http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=32 HD Radio Guide for Milwaukee
- Bellamy R. K. "Riding the Airwaves." Milwaukee Journal 7 September 1944. Accessed 2 December 2013.
- Fybush.com 2006.
- Local news Today's tmj4
- JS online blog.
- JS online blog.
- "Newswatch" JS online.
- "Blades will slip some chat into a sea of music on 'The Lake'" Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 5, 2008
- "E.W. Scripps, Journal Merging Broadcast Ops". TVNewsCheck. July 30, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
- "WKTI-FM Call Sign History". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- 94.5 The Lake Becomes KTI Country
- "Radio station owners 'surprised' by 92.1 FM's new name, logo". The Journal Times. June 3, 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- "A Shore Change For Lake Brand Battle". Radio Insight. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WKTI
- Radio-Locator information on WKTI
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WKTI