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Ely radio station sold, pending FCC approval

Zoe Communications, Inc. in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, bought WELY. During the transition, it will be off the air for about 90 days starting Thursday.

Ely watertower and business district
Downtown Ely.
File / Duluth News Tribune
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ELY — WELY, The End of the Road Radio station broadcast on 94.5 FM and 1450 AM, will go silent Thursday as it transitions to new ownership with Zoe Communications, Inc.

According to a news release, the sale is pending approval of the FCC, which is anticipated to take about 90 days. The $130,000 purchase from the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa will include all of WELY’s equipment, its tower and the transfer of the FCC licenses. A location in Ely has not yet been determined for the new studio.

The closure of WELY will extend its operation to allow for a potential sale.

“We are looking for a space that is better sized for the operation of the station in town,” Zoe Communications general manager Mike Oberg said in the release. He doesn’t expect any major programming changes.

Zoe Communications, Inc., located in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, owns seven FM and four AM stations in Northwestern Wisconsin.

WELY first broadcast in October 1954. It remained on the air until 1987 but closed due to financial struggles. CBS broadcaster Charles Kuralt, known for his "On the Road" segments on "The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" and as the first anchor of "CBS News Sunday Morning," bought the station in 1995 and operated it until he died in 1997.

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Operated by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa since 2005, the council originally decided to close WELY on June 1. General Manager Brett Ross and remote billing staff remained with the company. The closure of the station was extended twice to allow for its sale.

Bois Forte will retain ownership of the WELY building, including the upstairs office space. The downstairs studio and offices may be repurposed for a future business that would be owned and operated by Bois Forte, the press release said. The upstairs offices will be removed to prepare it for a future tenant.

Related Topics: BUSINESSRADIOELY
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