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NAB Marconi Award Finalist Profiles: WTMX(FM)

Long-time AC station consistently finishes in Chicago top three

The National Association of Broadcasters has announced the finalists for the 2015 Marconi Awards, which will be handed out Oct. 1 during the NAB Marconi Awards Dinner & Show taking place during the 2015 Radio Show in Atlanta.

As the start of the 2015 Radio Show approaches, we look to offer profiles for some of the stations that were named finalists for the Marconi Awards. This week we talked with Dave Karwoski, director of marketing for Legendary Station of the Year finalist WTMX(FM) in Chicago.

(From left to right) Melissa McGurren, Whip, Eric Ferguson, Kathy Hart, Swany, and Cynthia DeNicolo Radio World: Briefly describe your station’s history, current ownership and format.
Dave Karwoski: The station has always been a form of adult contemporary and has evolved on that path from the beginning setting new standards for the genre. Debuting as a soft AC under the call letters WCLR in December 1970, by the early 1980s, the station evolved to a straight-ahead AC format. WCLR was “Chicago’s Lite Rock” from about 1982 until 1989. In 1989, WCLR moved to a hot AC format, changed its call letters to WTMX, and became known as The Mix. By 1996, the format had evolved yet again to become one of the nation’s first modern AC stations. In September of that year, The Mix debuted the “Eric & Kathy Morning Show” fronted by Chicago natives Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart. The show has boasted strong listenership among advertiser-coveted 25- to 54-year-old females for most of their tenure at the station.

As the modern AC format began waning, WTMX evolved yet again to embrace top 40 that was palatable to an adult contemporary audience and demonstrated its leadership once again as one of the nation’s first adult top 40 radio stations. Throughout each evolution the station grew its audience reaching the two million plus listener mark that it continues to enjoy to this day. On Jan. 19, 2011, Bonneville International announced the sale of WTMX to Hubbard Broadcasting which closed in April of that year.

RW: What’s the station’s slogan?
Karwoski: 101.9 The Mix.

RW: Why do you think WTMX was among the finalists in the Legendary Station category?
Karwoski: WTMX takes great pride in our ongoing commitment to content and the community it serves. We feel our contribution here is an attribute that truly sets us apart in Chicago and has been an instrumental factor in solidifying our position as a top three station with adult listeners for almost two decades.

RW: What makes WTMX stand out from the other finalists?
Karwoski: WTMX is a music station, anchored by the groundbreaking, number one “Eric & Kathy Morning Show.” Yet we continually strive to rise above entertainment content by including regular news and information segments, original public affairs programming and daily public service announcements. This diverse content is all woven together into today’s digitally-focused communication platforms, empowering our listeners to help us help others.

RW: What is the radio culture like at the station?
Karwoski: The culture concept is pretty simple. It’s one that inspires the best people to improve daily, think bigger, maximize opportunity and deliver fun.

RW: What words would radio people who work there use about it?
Karwoski: There is a level of quality; there is a bar that is set that is expected to be exceeded, yet the atmosphere is entrepreneurial throughout the station, giving everyone who works here a voice in what happens.

RW: What’s the most unusual thing the station has done lately that typifies its personality or mission?
Karwoski: Our personality is not gimmicky; we look to inspire our listeners over five emotional platforms: music, entertainment, contesting, social media and causes. This combination might take them on a week-long tour with Imagine Dragons, a day trip, a concert adventure on a private jet to New York to see Taylor Swift to a Halloween costume party, or a concert with Adam Lambert to generate funds for Breast Cancer Awareness

RW: Who makes up the Leadership roles at the station?
Karwoski: John Gallagher, VP/market manager; Greg Solk, SVP programming; Mary Ellen Kachinske, program director; Craig Volpe, director of sales; Sara McMurray, general sales manager; Dave Karwowski, director of marketing; Paul Webber, direct market manager; Jeff Buti, digital media director; William Cress, IT director; Chris Petlak, social media manager; Brandon Blue, video production coordinator; and Kent Lewin, chief engineer.

RW: Anything else people need to know about the station?
Karwoski: “The Eric & Kathy Radiothon” has raised over $26 million in the last 15 years.

Read more station profiles for 2015 Marconi Award finalists.