WBBL Flips To Country As Thunder Returns To Grand Rapids

Thunder 107.3 WBBL Nash-FM 94.5 WTNR Grand RapidsCumulus Media Has flipped Sports 107.3 WBBL Grand Rapids to Country “Thunder” as part of a simulcast with 94.5 WTNR Holland.

WTNR, which had been country “Nash-FM 94.5“, previously used the Thunder moniker from 2004 through its rebranding in 2014. No word if the simulcast is permanent or if it is to gradually shift the Country audience to the new frequency. Both 94.5 and 107.3 are Class B signals with 94.5 west of Grand Rapids closer to Lake Michigan while 107.3 much more land area into the rural areas east and nearly to Lansing.

The move is part of a shuffle that will see Michigan Media Network acquire WBBL’s “Huge Show” hosted by Bill Simonson while flipping Cumulus’ 1340 WJRW Grand Rapids and 1490 WKLQ Whitehall to Sports as “The Ticket“.

Original Report 1/4 2pm: Cumulus Sports 107.3 WBBL Grand Rapids as cut its entire local airstaff as a format change is imminent.

Program Director Marcus Bradman, morning host Eric Zane, co-host/producer Ben Glaze, the regionally syndicated afternoon show hosted by Bill Simonson and members of the promotions deparment are all out at the station. In a Facebook video announcing his exit Zane stated that there was a previously announced staff meeting scheduled for 3:00pm today.

Zane indicates that he will be focusing on podcasting as he has a one year non-compete with Cumulus in the market.

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  1. Mark W. says

    Is that Thunder 107.3 logo legit or a mock-up? The one on the station’s web site shows no frequency.

    Lance, the cluster’s big money maker – Classic Rock 97 LAV – has been running on auxiliary facilities at greatly reduced power since last July 3. Their listeners in Ottawa County (west of Grand Rapids) have been begging for a better signal for months!!!

    To simulcast 94.5 & 107.3 long-term while forcing LAV’s listeners to continue to listen to a flimsy B1 equivalent signal would be the ultimate slap in the face. So, my conclusion is this — the 94.5 & 107.3 simulcast is probably temporary. I am not sure just how “temporary.” Could be days, or it could last for weeks.

    By the way, “Nobody Plays More Country” is the former & long-time positioning statement used by West Michigan’s country behemoth, B93.

    Local Cumulus VP/GM, Bruce Law, previously worked for B93 (as GSM, I believe).

    1. Lance Venta says

      The logo is from the station’s Facebook page.

      I personally believe the simulcast to be temporary. Probably a couple weeks. Perhaps through Martin Luther King Day to transition the audience. But a previous domain registration I reported on that I didn’t have a market to point to to but came from Cumulus’ registrar now looks clearly for WTNR.

      Not sure I follow the WLAV part. According to the FCC database it has been operating via STA from the WGVU-TV tower near Allendale since October.

  2. Mark W. says

    Thank you kindly for the info!

    I visited Grand Rapids over Thanksgiving. WLAV was definitely still using the 20 kW / 90 meters antenna from the WBBL tower. Station was coming in well on the west side of Lansing. That feat would’ve been impossible from the GVSU site.

    They have received STA for the GVSU site, but have yet to move there. My guess is they’re having to wait for a directional antenna to be manufactured.

  3. Mark W. says

    New format on 94.5 FM launched around 11 AM local time this morning (Saturday, January 19) as “The Q, 94-5.”

    Format is Adult Album Alternative. The station sounds a LOT like sister station 107.1 in Ann Arbor.

    Here’s a twist of irony – the longtime WKLQ-FM callsign used at 94.5 FM in Holland / Grand Rapids is likely headed back to this frequency.

    The call sign of 107.1 Ann Arbor, you ask? WQKL! 🙂

    So – same format, same owner, same V/O artist (for those who care about that stuff), and same call letters (just arranged in a different order!).

    This is the first time Grand Rapids has ever had a commercial Adult Album Alternative station. The market has had two Modern AC-leaning alternative stations in the past, though. The most recent one (Radio X 9-6-1) earned terrible ratings.

    Given the fact the people involved in programming the highly successful WQKL appear to be involved in this new station gives me hope that the missteps Clear Channel made with Radio X won’t happen again here with Cumulus.

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