WRIG
Broadcast areaWausau-Stevens Point
Frequency1390 kHz
Branding93.9 The Game
Programming
FormatSports
AffiliationsWRNW, Fox Sports Radio
Ownership
Owner
WDEZ, WIFC, WOZZ, WSAU, WSAU-FM
History
First air date
January 30, 1937 (1937-01-30)
Former call signs
  • WSAU (1937–1958)
Former frequencies
  • 1370 kHz (1937–1941)
  • 1400 kHz (1941–1985)
Call sign meaning
Derived from the name of the Wright family, which has owned the station since 1958
Technical information
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID73946
ClassB
Power10,000 watts day
7,200 watts night
Transmitter coordinates
44°52′42.00″N 89°38′29.00″W / 44.8783333°N 89.6413889°W / 44.8783333; -89.6413889
Translator(s)93.9 W230BU (Rothschild)
Links
Public license information
Website939thegame.com

WRIG (1390 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a sports format licensed to Schofield, Wisconsin, United States, and serving the Wausau area. The station is currently owned by Midwest Communications and features programming from Fox Sports Radio. It is also broadcast on FM translator W230BU at 93.9 MHz.

The station history of WRIG begins with the 1937 launch of WSAU, the first station in Wausau. In 1958, WSAU sold the 1400 kHz frequency to move to a stronger facility, and the Wright family acquired it and started WRIG; this marked the beginning of Midwest Communications as a company.[1] Formats on the station since 1958 have included top 40, oldies, adult standards, and sports talk.

History

WSAU

In late 1935, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received two mutually exclusive applications to start new radio stations in Wausau. Both were from out-of-town investors. The Wausau Broadcasting Company, with investment from Minnesota and South Dakota individuals led by Emmons Abeles, and the Madison-based Northern Broadcasting Company sought the frequency of 1370 kHz. At comparative hearing, the Wausau Broadcasting group admitted none of the principals had ever visited the namesake city.[2] FCC hearing examiner P. W. Seward initially recommended both applications be denied, particularly Wausau Broadcasting because one of its corporations was not qualified to do business in Wisconsin,[3] but Northern appealed the denial of its application and won a construction permit for a 100-watt, daytime-only station on September 29, 1936.[4][5]

After changing its call letters from WDRB,[5] WSAU debuted on January 30, 1937.[6] From studios on Third Street in the Leath and Company building,[7] the station's initial lineup consisted of news, music, entertainment, and farm information programs.[8] Operating for its first months on a daytime-only basis, the station applied shortly before launch for authority to broadcast at night, receiving it in September and beginning nighttime service on October 12.[5][9] Power was increased to 250 watts in 1938, and the station moved from 1370 to 1400 kHz when NARBA took effect on March 29, 1941.[5]

In 1947, WSAU, along with an unbuilt FM construction permit, was sold to The Milwaukee Journal, which received approval in mid-June and began operating the Wausau station on June 20.[10] The Journal was bullish on FM and hoped to construct a regional FM network, with the new WSAU-FM as one of the links; a facility was built on Rib Mountain in 1948 to house the AM and FM stations' transmitters, and both stations moved their studios to the Plumer mansion in 1949.[11] However, the band failed to take off with listeners, and WSAU-FM was shuttered in April 1950. The Journal had not planned on continuing to run a 250-watt AM radio station, but it felt that it had a responsibility to the community to keep Wausau's only local station on the air. When an offer was made by John Tomek—owner of a station at Rhinelander and applicant for another in Wausau—and Charles Lemke, the Journal opted to sell.[11]

In February 1952, WSAU filed to start a television station on channel 7, in advance of the FCC lifting its four-year freeze on new TV station licenses.[12] The radio station was joined by two other applicants: Wausau's second station, WOSA (which withdrew and sought a UHF channel), and the Wisconsin Valley Television Company, a consortium of local newspapers—the Wausau Daily Record-Herald, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Merrill Daily Herald, Rhinelander Daily News, and Antigo Daily Journal, as well as the radio stations owned by the Wisconsin Rapids and Antigo newspapers.[13] In March 1954, comparative hearings began between WSAU and Wisconsin Valley. They ended days later when Tomek and Lemke's company, WSAU, Inc., agreed to drop its application and sell the radio station to Wisconsin Valley, leaving it uncontested for channel 7 and leading to the construction of WSAU-TV that year.[14]

Over the years, WSAU had attempted to increase power by applying twice for frequency changes. It unsuccessfully sought 1250 kHz in 1944, and a second application had been made in 1957 to increase to 5,000 watts day and 1,000 watts night at 1320 kHz.[5] However, that would prove unnecessary. In January 1958, the Wisconsin Valley Television Company entered into an agreement to purchase WOSA and its FM companion at Merrill, Wisconsin, WLIN, from Alvin O'Konski for $225,000. Wisconsin Valley would retain the WOSA facility and move WSAU onto it, selling off the 250-watt station at 1400 kHz.[15]

WRIG

Wisconsin Valley could not close on the purchase until the 1400 kHz frequency and physical plant was sold, and a buyer was found in May: Duey Wright, the owner of the Wright's Music Store and a school of music in Wausau, who would take over the 1400 frequency using the call sign WRIG and set up studios above the music store.[16] On August 1, 1958, the realignment of radio frequencies portended by the sale became reality. WSAU and its programming moved from 1400 to 550 kHz, incorporating selected WOSA programs,[17] and WRIG debuted with a music-heavy format at 1400 kHz.[18]

An independent outlet for its first year, WRIG joined the CBS network in July 1959.[19] It emerged as a Top 40 station, calling itself "Big Wrig".[20] WRIG-FM was started in 1964 and became WDEZ in 1973; it has aired a country music format since the early 1980s.[21]

Duey "Duke" Wright Jr., the son of founder Duey Wright Sr., was a DJ at the station when it started and worked in various positions over the years at the outlet, becoming general manager in 1965; he moved to Green Bay in 1975 when he acquired stations there.[1] Wright Jr. had grown up on Wausau music and radio; in a 2002 interview with Radio & Records, he quipped, "I proudly announced that I could spell the name of our town: 'W-S-A-U'; actually, that was the station we listened to."[22] By 2019, Midwest Communications owned 75 stations in states stretching from North Dakota to Tennessee.[23]

In 1985, the station changed to 1390 kHz and increased power to 5,000 watts, becoming the area's first AM stereo station in the process.[24] This also led to the change in community of license from Wausau to Schofield.[25] The station switched from oldies to adult standards in 1993, dropping the format and changing to Fox Sports Radio in 2003. The move allowed WSAU—which Wright purchased in 1996—to add more non-sports talk shows to its lineup.[26] The station reverted to oldies but then flipped back to Fox Sports in 2009.[27]

On November 2, 2020, WRIG rebranded as "93.9 The Game" with weekday daytime programming originating from WRNW in Milwaukee.[28]

References

  1. ^ a b Gerds, Warren (August 6, 1988). "Duke of the air waves still tops charts". Green Bay Press-Gazette. Green Bay, Wisconsin. p. B-4. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Two Applicants For Radio Stations in Wausau at Capital". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. December 14, 1935. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Recommends Denial Of Applications for Radio Stations Here". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. April 3, 1936. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Authority To Erect New Radio Station At Wausau Granted". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. October 1, 1936. p. 3. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b c d e FCC History Cards for WRIG
  6. ^ "Radio Station Presents First Program Over Air; Speakers Hail Opening". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. January 30, 1937. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Radio Station WSAU To be in Operation Here by January 1". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. October 31, 1936. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "WSAU Greets You!". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. January 29, 1937. p. 4. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "WSAU on the air Until at least 10 P. M. Daily, Beginning Tonight!". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. October 12, 1937. p. 2. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Milwaukee Journal Now Operating WSAU" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 30, 1947. p. 22. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-08. Retrieved 2022-06-01.
  11. ^ a b "Sale of WSAU Is Announced". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. October 10, 1951. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Local Radio Station Seeks TV Channel". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. February 19, 1952. p. 12. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Defer Action on TV Application". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. January 24, 1953. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Agree on Merger of TV Interests, WSAU Sale to Valley Television Corp". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. March 29, 1954. p. 1. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved May 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "WOSA Sold to WSAU Owners; Need FCC OK". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. January 14, 1958. p. 1. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Wright Family To Buy WSAU Radio Facilities". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. May 22, 1958. p. 1. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "OK Sale of WSAU-Radio". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. June 19, 1958. p. 1. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Stations Are Realigned in Wausau Area". Marshfield News-Herald. Marshfield, Wisconsin. Associated Press. August 1, 1958. p. 12. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "Station WRIG to Be Affiliate of CBS". Wausau Daily Record-Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. July 11, 1959. p. 16. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "Big WRIG: Wausau station really shook up the scene in its debut 30 years ago". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. August 6, 1988. p. 6. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Helton, Lon (June 30, 2005). "Independence No Hazard For Duke: Midwest's Wright bullish on radio, Country" (PDF). Radio & Records. pp. 1, 34. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-05-24. Retrieved 2022-06-01 – via World Radio History.
  22. ^ "GM Spotlight: Duke Wright" (PDF). Radio & Records. March 29, 2002. p. 11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-10-01. Retrieved 2022-06-01 – via World Radio History.
  23. ^ Venta, Lance (February 6, 2019). "Midwest Communications Acquires Alpha Media's Peoria Stations". RadioInsight. Archived from the original on August 17, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  24. ^ "WRIG now AM stereo, more powerful". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. June 9, 1985. p. 2B. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "WRIG radio moves to Schofield". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. March 30, 1985. p. 3. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ Paulsen, David (January 25, 2003). "AM stations move to more talk: Music dropped from WRIG lineup". Wausau Daily Herald. Wausau, Wisconsin. p. 1A, 2A. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "Rome, FSR Add Affiliates". All Access. June 8, 2009. Archived from the original on June 1, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  28. ^ "97.3 The Game Expands Across Wisconsin". RadioInsight. November 4, 2020. Archived from the original on November 4, 2020. Retrieved November 4, 2020.