Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

620 WTMJ, ESPN Radio and The Truth Moving Downtown

After 80 years on Capitol Dr., city's venerable radio operation moving to The Avenue.

By - Jun 2nd, 2021 02:19 pm
The Avenue with 3rd Street Market Hall sign. Photo by Angeline Terry.

The Avenue with 3rd Street Market Hall sign. Photo by Angeline Terry.

The biggest stick in the state is moving Downtown.

After 80 years at “Radio City” on Capitol Drive, Newsradio 620 WTMJ is moving its offices and broadcast studios to The Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Good Karma Brands will relocate its flagship WTMJ station as well as its ESPN Milwaukee radio affiliate and newly-launched 101.7 The Truth station to the former Shops of Grand Avenue Mall. Studios will be located on the first floor overlooking the 3rd Street Market Hall. The station offices will be located on the building’s second floor.

“It is incredibly important to us as a local operator of world class brands to be a part of the fabric of the local community and the cities in which we live and work,” said Good Karma founder and CEO Craig Karmazin in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier with The Avenue and 3rd Street Market Hall as it is a symbol of the growth, investment and diversity present in downtown Milwaukee development, and aligns directly with our values as a locally owned company passionate about serving our local community.” 

Long-time employees of the Milwaukee ESPN affiliate, which broadcasts on 540 AM and 94.5 FM, will know the neighborhood. The station spent the past decade across the street in the base of the 310W office building.

620 WTMJ has operated out of the building at 720 E. Capitol Dr. since 1941, sharing it with television station TMJ4. The similar names were derived from their prior owner, The Milwaukee Journal. But the media properties have been broken up, as has the building. A wall dividing the two companies was installed in recent years. Good Karma acquired WTMJ, and a music station on 94.5 FM, in 2018 for $16 million. The television station is now owned by E.W. Scripps & Co. and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper is owned by Gannett.

The Truth, a new station targeting Milwaukee’s Black community, launched in January.

Broadcast equipment for the stations remains on towers just east of the station building.

The stations are expected to complete the move later this year. The market hall, a food hall led by Omar Shaikh, is expected to open this summer. A sign for the first floor business was installed atop the three-story atrium earlier this week.

Good Karma will also locate its headquarters in The Avenue. In addition to the Milwaukee stations, Good Karma owns ESPN affiliate stations in Chicago, Cleveland, Madison and West Palm Beach and two radio stations in Beaver Dam. It also operates an events creator that produces the Wisconsin Sports Awards, Tundra Trio hospitality houses in Green Bay and college football’s Boca Raton Bowl. The company reports having 291 employees, including 130 in Milwaukee.

“Our radio stations, WTMJ, ESPN Milwaukee and The Truth, underscore and reflect the importance of news, sports and local community engagement, while also relying on the history and heritage of the city of Milwaukee and the people of Milwaukee,” said vice president and market manager Steve Wexler. “To join the 3rd Street Market Hall and The Avenue in their quest to both honor that heritage and spirit of Milwaukee while ushering in new ideas and innovation is the perfect complement to our mission as well.”  

The redevelopment of the mall is being led by Josh Krsnak and Tony Janowiec. The partners secured engineering firm GRAEF as an anchor office tenant in 2018. The partners also developed the Plankinton Clover Apartments in former retail space in the mall’s Plankinton Arcade building. Design work on the projects is being led by The Kubala Washatko Architects.

The potential for the stations’ move was first reported in 2019 by BizTimes.


The Avenue Renderings

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: 620 WTMJ, ESPN Radio and The Truth Moving Downtown”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    620 wtmj should move to Waukesha. They do little for the city.

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