On Thursday, August 15, 2019, WION Radio in Ionia hosted broadcast engineers from SBE Chapter 102 (West Michigan/Grand Rapids) and SBE Chapter 91 (Lansing/Mid Michigan) on the lawn of the radio station for Chapter 102’s annual picnic. The Mid Michigan group was invited by the West Michigan chapter to come and take in the event by Chapter 102’s Mark Wittkoski.
It’s been seven years since WION hosted this event and the turnout was wonderful with WION Monday Night Host “Popeye John” handling the grill (his “real” job cooking at the Lamplight Grill in Downtown Ionia) and plenty of food and conversation to go around. Attendees came from as far as 120 miles away to gather at the station, including WION’s own engineers from Munn-Reese Engineering, Ralph Haines and many others.
WION co-owners Jim Carlyle and Jim Aaron (Manager at WGLM, Greenville/Lakeview) were both in attendance and happy with the turnout. Many “tales” were told of WION’s history and stories of other stations added to the evening’s fun as guests enjoyed the outside event, and tours of the station’s studios and transmitter site on Haynor Road in Ionia.
WION operates AM Stereo 1430 and carries it’s actual AM stereo sound online at their website and most streaming devices. It also serves Ionia County on FM 92-7, recently adding their new signal on 100.3 FM in Lowell, serving Eastern Kent County. The new Kent County signal is a cooperative effort of Lowell School’s FM 92-3, (sharing transmitter site and broadcast antenna) and the City of Lowell, working with WION to make WION’s newest FM translator a reality.
WION hopes to host this event again and enjoyed all the great conversation, and the contributions of the Ionia Moose Lodge, Muir Village Market, and both chapters of the SBE. From the “WION Trivia” department, it is interesting to note that this gathering happened just 15 years plus a day from when owners Jim Carlyle and Jim Aaron got the keys to the (then dark) WION in 2004, and accepted the challenge and the deadline of restoring the station to the air by September 4th of that year or risk the license being deleted. WION returned to the air with the current owners on September 1st of 2004, and celebrates fifteen years of local radio this year.