May 30, 2013
By Heather Jordan
SAGINAW, MI — Meredith Broadcasting and Channel 5, WNEM have given the 1250-AM radio station to Ave Maria Communications.
The former news and talk radio station, which featured syndicated talk shows including Neal Boortz and Dave Ramsey, is off the air. It will begin offering Catholic programming within the next few months.
“We’re currently building a programming schedule and making sure all the equipment is in order,” said Michael Jones, vice president and general manager at Ave Maria Radio.
Jones said 1250-AM will broadcast from A-M Church Supply, 3535 Bay in Saginaw Township.
“They gave us the tower, the land, the transmitter and enough studio equipment to make it happen,” Jones said. “It was a very generous gift.”
Al Blinke, vice president and general manager of WNEM, said the station had a poor signal, dropping from about 5,000 watts during the day to about 1,000 watts at night, and it was not profitable.
“Just financially it was a decision we had to make,” he said. “We couldn’t keep operating the station at a loss.”
Blinke said WNEM looked for a buyer, but when there was no interest decided to donate it.
The station has been off the air for about a month because WNEM couldn’t program it after it gave up ownership, Blinke said, and in that time he has received a number of calls and emails from listeners.
“More people call and write emails to us than I ever imagined,” he said.
Jones expects the station to be back on the air with its new Catholic programming within the next few months.
“Our goal is the next 60 days, and I think we’ll be just fine making that deadline,” he said.
Ann Arbor-based Ave Maria Communications operates 1440-AM and programming on the two stations will be complementary, Jones said.
“We’re deeply grateful to Meredith Broadcasting for their generosity and especially General Manager Al Blinke,” Jones said. “And we look forward to programming the station and relaunching it to help Catholics and other Christians build their church and bless the nation and the community at large.”
Adding, “We’re there to serve the bishop and the Diocese of Saginaw.”