Eric Kaelin, a former general manager of Grand Haven radio station WGHN, launched WAWL-LP (103.5 FM) about two weeks ago.
The call letters represent the names of Kaelin’s wife and children. The low-power station broadcasts live community radio from a building immediately east of Rycenga Lumber at 1097 Jackson St.
Kaelin said the new classic rock listening choice is no competition for WGHN because it only has a range of about seven miles and its mission is on an entirely different frequency. He said WAWL is a nonprofit entity, focused on training high school and college students in various aspects of a broadcasting career.
WAWL is joining forces with leaders from Grand Haven High School, Muskegon Community College and Grand Valley State University to teach all avenues of such a career path, from marketing and financial aspects to the art of being on the air.
“We're not in a ratings war — we're not in competition,” Kaelin said. “We're going to train new broadcasters and give them a chance to really get on the air. If we can train them properly, they'll actually be very marketable when they come out.”
Kaelin said being on the air is just a small portion of a radio career.
“We're going to teach you how to sell, how to set up a remote, how to put together a promotion, how to deal with people, how to answer the phone,” he said. “There are a lot of basic things that get lost in the cracks when people want to be on the radio.”
Students aren't the only ones who will get exposure through WAWL. Local music enthusiast and Walk the Beat director Dave Palmer is partnering with the station to feature local bands.
“We've been trying to get something like this going for several years,” Palmer said. “West Michigan has some renowned musicians who still can't get heard on the radio. We'll do interviews mixed with music. It's a fantastic opportunity.”
WAWL also features local news, sports, weather and traffic updates.
Kaelin is the station’s general manager and serves as president of the Tri-Cities Broadcasting Foundation, which operates the station. His wife, Amanda, is the foundation’s vice president and Floyd Fonte is secretary.
Even though WAWL's output is only 100 watts, the station can be heard around the world through its website, 1035wawl.com.
Read the complete story in today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.