CHIPPEWA FALLS (WQOW) - After 54 years on the air, WCFW 105.7 FM, a staple in Chippewa Valley radio, has made the decision to sell.
Roland Bushland and his wife, Pat, first started WCFW's broadcast, known for polka hits, adult contemporary tunes and high school sports, in 1968.
He said he previously owned a recording studio, but wanted in on radio when FM signals hit the airways. It was a new technology with clearer sound, and he said times were different then.
"We were the third FM in Eau Claire. Now there's 20-something," Bushland said. "The two FMs on-air played elevator music. We came as a radio station."
That decision paid off: he said they were the number one FM station in the Chippewa Valley for a few years. However, in 1975, he said all the AM stations moved over, and their ratings hovered in the middle ever since. Bushland said he's happy with that standing, and is grateful to WCFW listeners.
"We struggled along through the years, but we're still here," Bushland remarked.
The station's operations director, Paul Sokup, said they still have original tapes, or carts, as they're known in the radio world. Despite decades of play, they still sound clear enough for the airwaves.
Bushland said although the years in the station flew by, time marches on. They adapted with a changing industry without changing their programming, but now, he said there's no chance they can keep up.
"It's been kind of fun. But 54 years is long enough," Bushland said. "The way things are going in the business climate, it isn't good for little guys. So we gotta go with the big ones."
For the past 10 years, Bushland said he and Pat had been considering leaving radio.
Another family-owned business, Magnum Media, is composed of longtime fans. They reached out to the couple when they heard they were selling.
"We got a chance to go meet with Rollie and Pat and get the tour, and it's such an amazing facility that they built from scratch and have carried on," said Reid Magnum, vice president of Magnum Media. "It's such an honor for us that they selected my family to get a chance to carry on what they've built. My mom and dad started our group from scratch 31 years ago."
Magnum said they own 24 other Wisconsin stations, and are excited to branch into the Chippewa Valley. Bushland said he was sure they would take care of 105.7.
The sale is pending approval from the FCC. They think after a few months, the switch will be final. For now, it will be business as usual for Roland and Pat.