Changes complete at West Bend radio stations
Formats, genres get tweaks from new owners

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

Feb. 13, 2015

WEST BEND - The tunes, they are a-changin’ at West Bend radio stations WBKV-AM and WBWI-FM.

In October, Bliss Communications sold the stations to Magnum Communications for $2.25 million. Since then, the ownership studied the stations and their programming and made changes at both starting Monday.

WBKV has switched from news talk to playing “Kool Variety” music.

“The new format makes use of the KV in our call letters and will feature a wider range of music from many years ago,” Program Director Mike Summers said. “There will be more songs that you haven’t heard played for quite some time.

At the same time, WBWI-FM changed its call letters to WMBZ-FM and will go under the name of “Buzz Country.”

“We’ll still be playing country music, but we will play more music that is hit-oriented and has mass appeal,” Summers said.

Company owner Dave Magnum said purchasing the two West Bend stations fits well with the other stations his company owns in Wisconsin.

“Changing and tweaking formats will attract more listeners,” Magnum said. “The changes will appeal to a wider audience. We nicknamed a station Buzz several years ago, then flipped formats but hung on to buzzcountry.com with hopes of redeploying it someday.”

Magnum said he and his company are excited about being in the West Bend market. Magnum is the licensee of 16 radio stations, one Class A TV and two LPTVs, all in Wisconsin.

Before 1983, WBKV was a 1,000-watt daytime-only station. The station aired a local, full-service format featuring local talk as well as lifestyle programming, syndicated talk shows and music programming — ’70s and big band music until about 2001. At that time, it flipped to a satellite-driven classic country format to compliment sister WBWI-FM. The local morning show was retained, other shows were canceled.

WMBZ-FM, formerly known as WBWIFM (92.5 FM) was originally WBKV-FM, an easy listening station. It was later known as “V92” and featured an automated adult contemporary and country format. On Sept. 16, 1988, the station picked up the WBWI-FM call letters. WBWI-FM flipped to its current country format in late 1989/early 1990. For a few years, it was known as “92 Country Rock” then “92 Country” before it was renamed to “Pure Country,” a name it kept until 2004 when the branding debuted, staying until this week’s changes.

On June 25, Bliss Communications announced it would sell the two West Bend stations, along with two in Racine, to Magnum’s company. Bliss had owned WBWI and WBKV since 1970.