The History of 89.3 WBLD Lakes FM

oldboardThe storied history of 89.3 WBLD Lakes FM goes all the way back to 1974.  Back then, thanks for a contribution from a local resident and the efforts of a battery of West Bloomfield School District officials, one of the first FM Educational radio stations in the station of Michigan was licensed by the FCC and put on the air. Back then, all the educational FM stations were licensed at 10 watts, to minimize interference and provide for as many stations within the FM educational band (88.1 MHz – 91.9 MHz) as possible.

Among the documents created for a “Proposed FM Station at West Bloomfield High School”  was a proposal for “A broadcast studio with the following equipment:  One audio console, two turntables, two cartridge tape machines, one reel to reel tape machine and one cassette tape machine”. Some of the proposed programs included “Teacher Profile”, “Student Thoughts”, “Superintendent’s Report” and the ever-popular “Music and Community Information”.

The original Studio location was in the “Senior Pod” located next to receiving on the far south side of the High School.  That is where the current walk-in refrigerator is located.  The studios were eventually moved to the south side of the media center, then next to room C-901 on the west side of the media center, where it stood until July of 2001.

newboardThrough the years, West Bloomfield teacher David Albery was the original station manager of WBLD-FM.  Mr. Albery also taught Broadcasting I and II which utilized the radio station facilities.  WBLD was, back in those days, on the air from 7:30am until 10:00pm, providing a wide variety of music, information and much more.

Due to a few logistical problems in the late 80s, it was determined that a full time Station Manager would be hired to supervise the radio station at all times when on the air.  Enter Paul Townley, who took over as the WBLD Radio Station Manager on August 8, 1988.  Mr. Townley, with a Radio degree from Michigan State and 7 years broadcast experience, provided adult supervision at all times for the first time on the radio station. WBLD expanded its operations so that there was as many as 50 staff members each year on the radio station.  New equipment and technology was brought in, and WBLD was starting to achieve its initial goal as being a voice of the West Bloomfield District and Community.

The station continued to grow, offering a fine variety of music, news, community information and much more, WBLD’s staff numbered as many as 50 to 60 students each year as every single shift was filled year in and year out.

newstudioWBLD’S horizons as a community voice continued to expand as well. In March of 1995, the first of what was to become an early-spring tradition began on WBLD. Dubbed the “Radio-a-thon” by it’s co creators, Stacy Gastwirth and David Greenhut, the annual all-weekend long radio marathon raised monies for such diverse charities as The Juvenile Arthritis Foundation, the Humane Society and the Pontiac Rescue Mission.  To date, the radio-a-thon has raised in excess of 5-thousand dollars for various charities. WBLD is planning on another Radio-a-thon in the spring of 2006, once again benefiting Our Children’s Fund.

In the past few years, WBLD has also won numerous awards, including several awards and commendations for excellence from the Michigan Association of Educational Broadcasters in the fields of On-air broadcasting, news, sports, play-by-play and general excellence.

In spring of 2001, huge changes began for WBLD.  Thanks to a technology bond issue passed by the voters of the West Bloomfield School District the year before, WBLD was to be remodeled and updated, with a new transmitter and antenna, state of the art equipment and a completely new facility.  On May 11, 2001, WBLD broadcast for the last time from it’s old location next to room C-901.

wiresIn the fall of 2001, the station was relocated to a temporary facility in the cafeteria while the new studio was built as part of the West Bloomfield High School Media Center.  The radio station returned to the air and an all-new 24 hour a day format on March 25, 2002, and was shut down again June 18, 2002 as the finishing touches were placed on the new facility. The summer of 2002 saw one final move, from the cafeteria to the final location which, ironically, is in almost the exact same location as the old location, on the far west side of the media center block, in room 544.

Finally, after the longest of waits, WBLD-FM reopened for good the morning of Tuesday November 12, 2002. We returned to the air, as always, 24 hours a day, offering the widest variety of the best music.

WBLD prides itself as one of the very last of the so-called “Free-form” radio stations in existence among Detroit area radio stations.  Thanks to our progressive programming policy, our DJs have pretty much had total say in what airs on WBLD, and the station has long been a trendsetter in the latest sounds, ranging from Rap to Hip-hop to Punk, Ska & Reggae, Pop, Alternative and even Classical.  There is, to be sure, a little something for everyone at WBLD.

Recently we celebrated our 30th year on the air, no uncommon feat (if we do say so ourselves) for a high school non commercial broadcast radio station. In a community that thrives on change, WBLD-FM has been a constant for more than three decades.

In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long Strange Trip it’s Been”.  As an educational facility teaching life skills as well as the ins and outs of the exciting world of broadcasting, there has never been anything quite like WBLD in the West Bloomfield School District, or any other for that matter.  We look forward to our continued role as an active member of the broadcasting community, the West Bloomfield School District and the area in general.

We invite you to join our radio station at 89.3 FM, 24 hours a day, in the West Bloomfield area. Additionally, if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas that will allow out radio station to continue to grow, please email us or contact the radio station anytime at 248-865-6754.