Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Liberal WRRD-AM to End Broadcasts

Liberal talk radio station will close Milwaukee office and concentrate on Madison station.

By - Aug 27th, 2020 09:23 am
Mike Crute. Photo from Crute for Wisconsin.

Mike Crute. Photo from Crute for Wisconsin.

WRRD “News Talk Radio” (1510-AM), which bills itself as “Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s Only Independent news talk radio,” has made an application with the FCC to drastically reduce its signal strength and to close its studio at 1224 E. Brady St., concentrating its operations with its Madison affiliate. The station announced its plans to open a Milwaukee outlet in February 2016, yet I wondered at the time in an Urban Milwaukee article, “Is liberal talk radio possible?”

Apparently not in this city.

In a May 2020 article, my colleague Bruce Murphy reported the station’s owner Mike Crute was having trouble attracting advertisers in Milwaukee whereas the Madison station he owns has been turning a profit.  “At some point Crute may be forced to sell or change the format for the Milwaukee stations and stick to the Madison base while syndicating Devil’s Advocate,” a nationally syndicated show featuring Crute and co-host Dominic Salvia, the story speculated.

The station originally used the tagline “Resistance Radio,” which potential advertisers found to be quite resistable. It changed the tag to a simple “News Talk.” The station also expected to generate revenue from the Democratic National Convention which was to be held in Milwaukee, but instead became a virtual event. Furthermore, Crute had hoped the station would attract Democrats and ads for their candidates, but perhaps the bombastic nature of the talk radio medium did not translate easily from Conservative to Liberal discourse. The station also broadcasts as Talk 101.7 on the FM band, which will still be found on the local airwaves.

Crute has spent $2 million to date on purchase of the stations and to cover operating losses for the Milwaukee station, Murphy reported, and it appears he has decided to cut his losses now.  

Transmitter Property for Sale

The station’s signals were broadcast from a five-acre property at 1801 Coral Drive, Waukesha. The property, which includes a concrete block building and two signal towers, has been listed for sale at $549,000. The station filed an application August 19th with the FCC to reduce its signal strength from 23K watts to 250 watts, the minimum permitted. Such a signal would barely reach Brookfield, which like much of Waukesha County is not considered a fertile ground for liberal thought.

Studio Vacated

The station’s Milwaukee programming originated from a storefront at 1224 E. Brady St., where passersby could watch through windows on the street, and listen from speakers located outside. The building is owned by JWK Management, Inc. Julilly Kohler, the owner, says she is negotiating terms to release the company from its lease.

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