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WELY staying on air for at least 3 more months as band courts buyers

The station has lost $1.7 million since Bois Forte bought the station in 2005.

Downtown Ely
Sheridan Street in downtown Ely is home to businesses and restaurants that cater to tourists.
2007 file / News Tribune
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ELY — The Bois Forte Tribal Council will keep the WELY radio station open through the summer as several potential buyers consider purchasing it.

The council made the announcement in a news release Friday, about a month after they voted to shut the station down by June 1. The station has lost $1.7 million since the band bought it in 2005.

Since that announcement, there have been "numerous interested parties that are inquiring about the purchase of WELY," Bois Forte Tribal Chair Cathy Chavers said in the release.

“This buys us additional time to work out a deal with one of the interested parties,” Chavers said in the release.

The band cautioned this doesn't guarantee a deal. It's working with a commercial real estate broker to handle the sale.

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It's unclear if the buyer would downsize the station, the band said.

WELY made its first broadcast in 1954 and then closed in 1987 due to financial struggles. Charles Kuralt, a longtime CBS newsman who hosted the popular "On the Road" segment and featured Ely in his book, "Charles Kuralt's America," bought the station in 1995 and operated it until he died in 1997. Bois Forte has owned it since 2005.

The station was is often used by locals to deliver personal messages to one another or to ask for favors in remote areas, where phone coverage was unreliable.

“Let’s just hope a buyer steps up to the plate and saves the station,” said Chavers. “Bois Forte has done all it can to keep the station alive, but now it’s time for someone else to keep WELY—The End of the Road Radio on the airwaves.”

WELY is broadcast on 94.5 FM and 1450 AM.

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