Inside Gutted, Outside Returning to Original Look -- Click for Photos
Posted by Uplift Shiawassee at 10:28pm 7/9/17
Uplift Shiawassee photo

Heritage Owosso radio station, WOAP 1080 AM and recently-added FM counterpart, 103.1, announced last week that the radio station is under new ownership and that a major remodel/rehab project has begun.

The announcement, made on social media just prior to the Independence Day holiday, begins "Ok Happy 4th Everyone. Being the new owners of the station has made us proud as we feel that the area needs to have it's own station again to put it back on the map. We are gonna pur [sic] the "O" back in OwOssO so hang on tight and get ready to rumble."

The post promises several major upcoming contests, including the chance to win a truck, a jet ski and a boat.  "[If] it goes well, we will do a car next," the post reads.

A subsequent social media post made later the same day, July 2nd, includes photos of a major remodel project.  "We have gutted the inside and stripped the outside and this week you will start seeing the pics of the new going up. There will be 2 bathrooms, new ac and heat, new studio and production rooms and much more and the outside will be redone and kept to have the vintage look and the building will have it's [sic] front entrance back as it origianlly [sic] did."

The new owners are not identified in either of the Facebook posts but an auto-response generated after an email to WOAP General Manager, Tony Burkhead, carries the name Worldwide Concerts Corp in Burkhead's signature.  The auto-response cautions that Burkhead's current Cano's Broadcasting email address is soon changing.

A search of the FCC database still lists the licensee of WOAP-AM as Cano's Broadcasting LLC, the company that has owned the radio station since 2012.  The owner of 103.1, considered a "translator," officially licensed to the city of Saginaw and required to rebroadcast content from an originating station, is listed as Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc., since 2015.  103.1 FM, whose legal call sign is W276CZ, signed on in Owosso in September 2015.  It is not uncommon for changes related to a station sale to go into effect even prior to the FCC's approval of the license transfer.  It is also not uncommon for radio companies to lease frequencies from other radio companies.

Except for the auto-response, we've not yet heard from Tony Burkhead, who also hosts the station's morning show.  The posts are unclear as to whether the sale includes both WOAP-AM and W276CZ-FM.

WOAP first signed on the air in 1948 at 1080 AM and 103.1 FM.  Both stations were owned by Owosso Argus Press.  The FCC forced the sale of the stations by the Argus in 1987 because of a rule that prevented a media monopoly in the city. The combination of the newspaper, the AM and FM radio station, located at 103.9 on the dial by that time,  constituted a monopoly, the FCC determined. Later, the AM and FM stations were sold separately and WOAP-FM began an "alphabet soup" of call sign changes, first WMZX and then WAHV before finally landing at WRSR.

Today, WRSR -- commonly known as "103.9 The Fox" is owned by Krol Communications, which also owns Z 92.5 The Castle in Owosso.  WRSR remains licensed to Owosso but the studio facility is in Flint Township on Miller Road.  The Castle (WJSZ-FM) is licensed to Ashley, with studios in Owosso.  WOAP-AM is licensed to Owosso and the studios are in Owosso on N. M-52.

Publisher's Note: Josh Strickland, Publisher of Uplift Shiawassee and The Durand Now Network of local news websites, is also a longtime local radio personality whose first full-time radio job was at Z 92.5 The Castle in Owosso.