Parker Reed for the Herald
A catchy jingle – with the melody “WCFW, where FM means good music” – fell on the desk of a young radio station owner in 1969.
It was short, simple and it worked. Paid $25 and over 50 years later, that same jingle – which has been played thousands of times on 105.7FM radio – exemplifies the values of WCFW in Chippewa Falls and the couple who have owned it for over half a year. -century: simplicity and consistency.
My grandparents, Roland and Patricia Bushland, have owned and operated WCFW since its inaugural broadcast on October 20, 1968. Earlier this summer, they decided to end their 54-year stint in radio, selling the Legacy station at Magnum Media – a Wisconsin-based media organization owned by Dave Magnum that now owns 25 radio stations across the state and will take over operations from the quaint, easy-listening station later this fall.
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It’s a bittersweet moment – for the community, yes, but especially for our family, for whom the station has been an integral part of our lives for decades.
“It’s hard not to have mixed feelings about this, because this has been our life for so long,” said my grandmother, Patricia Bushland. “When you start something and you’ve been the only one running it for all these years, you get attached to it. But after so many years, I’m thrilled to death that someone new is coming, and we can finally take a break.
When my grandfather Roland was young, he drew pictures of radio towers at school – because his life too began with the radio, front and center. My great-grandfather, Roy Bushland, owned and operated several Bushland Radio Specialties storefronts in Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire since the early 1930s – a business my grandfather got his start in 1952 after getting his graduated from Chippewa Falls High School as a salutatorian.
From the start, radio was his first love and the only industry he would ever work in.
As Roland sought to provide better audio quality to listeners, he became a pioneer in the local FM radio industry when he built one of the first FM radio stations in the mid-1960s after recently founding a family – including my aunt Lynn, my mother Karen, and my aunt Lisa.
The station started in 1968 as an easy listening station, dotted with Top 40, polka and talk radio programming. It quickly gained popularity for its local high school sports broadcasts and the archived broadcasts of syndicated radio host Jack Raymond, who was best known for his 1957-1975 show “The Jack Raymond Show”. Episodes are still released using original tapes – of which there are no digital copies. The episodes aired on WCFW are probably the only versions of the show that exist.
Over the decades, the only thing that has changed about the station are updates that have allowed automation technology to take over much of the station’s monitoring, as the world moved away from vinyl records and required someone behind the board 24/7.
“He hasn’t changed, and I never felt the need to change him,” Roland said. “It worked and we got good grades, so we left it alone.”
My grandparents’ commitment to the station has remained a constant throughout my life. Whenever something went wrong at the station, my grandfather would put everything aside and take care of the problem. Every Christmas Eve, he would leave after Christmas dinner for a few hours to broadcast church shows on the station, as well as their Santa tracker for local children.
As their time in radio draws to a close, their love for radio will be kept alive through their continued operation of Bushland Radio Specialties on Loring Street in Eau Claire.
And, hopefully, WCFW will remain “where FM means good music” for decades to come.
As I ended our conversation by recalling a lifetime of memories with the radio station that Roland built with his own hands – a career that inspired my own work in the media, as I worked for many years in as a reporter for the Chippewa Herald – I asked my grandfather one last question: “Why did you decide to start the station?
“I don’t know why,” he replied seriously, “but I just did. You have to do something.
IN PHOTOS: Cars on display at the 2022 Great Race in Chippewa Falls