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WELY still waiting on tower repairs

Ely Echo - Staff Photo - Create Article

by Parker Loew

Plans to restart WELY radio have been in limbo due to there being very few qualified people available to work on the broken tower.

There is hope, however, for the radio station to restart before winter, as a crew may be available in about three weeks to come and fix the tower.

Craig Loughery, host of the Trader Craig show on WELY and spokesperson for new owner Mike Oberg, gave some insight into the repairs of the WELY radio tower.

“The repairs will take four to five days. Once completed, our signal will be as strong as it was years ago, and our broadcasts will reach out many more miles,” said Loughery.

Weather will play the deciding factor on if the repair team can complete the needed repairs.

“It’s very much weather dependent,” said Loughery.

Tower repair crews are in high demand right now as it’s their busy season.

If the weather is poor when the repair crew is scheduled to come, they might not be able to come back before winter.

Even after the radio station gets up and running, they still need to figure out a revenue stream.

When the station was sold, the previous owners (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa) turned off the broadcasts during the transfer process, and the radio discontinued its advertising sponsorships.

“We’re going to be contacting our former advertisers when we are back on air. Right now, there are no advertising sponsorships,” Loughery said. “We can’t ask anybody to advertise until they see what our product is going to be.”

Once they get a revenue stream going again, they will be able to decide whether they want to air Vikings and Twins games.

“We do plan to include a lot of local events, especially local sports,” said Loughery. “Vikings and Twins games aren’t cheap though, so we will need to see after we get the revenue stream going how feasible it is.”

When the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa sold the radio station, they kept the building and only sold the tower.

There is a new site for the radio station headquarters in Ely, but Loughery said the location is undisclosed for now.

While Loughery isn’t sure exactly when the radio station will be able to come back on the air again, he himself is anxious for it to be back.

“Nobody misses it more than me,” he said. “We won’t know until we figure out what to do with the tower.”

WELY apologizes for the delays and says it has been very frustrating trying to get everything up and running but promises they will return soon, and it will be worth the wait.

“I think it’ll be a very welcome product, and we’ll be able to get moving pretty quick,” Loughery said.

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