Check into Door County's radio Lodge
On May 14, 1997, Milwaukee radio got "The Point." At 106.9 on the FM dial, the station featured a then-modern adult alternative / contemporary format playing many artists that for years didn't have a home on commercial radio in Milwaukee.
Justin Case was one of the principals at The Point. More on him in a bit. For many, The Point was a sign that Milwaukee could support a commercial alternative radio station. This was, tough, before heavy digital downloads and iPod mania.
The station enjoyed good success (OnMilwaukee.com in its early years partnered with the station on a few events and helped promote a CD that The Point issued) and, before it folded, encouraged many stations to deepen their playlists and add more modern rock sounds.
Sadly, The Point's management gave up on the format and switched it in April 1999.
Today, the spirit of The Point is alive and well. It's just not in Milwaukee, but rather Door County. This is where I found The Lodge. Wonderfully, it's also the brainchild of Justin Case (Mike Mesic is his real name) and many others with ties to Milwaukee. In fact, the idea for the station was hatched just after The Point died in 1999.
I checked into the Lodge, if you will, a few months ago while on vacation in Door County. Its music mix was contagious, inventive and unlike any I'd ever heard on commercial radio. It mixed old and new rock acts and, like its site states "music that's familiar without being stale, new without being obscure."
For me, it was a perfect station. A little John Mayer, some Keb Mo, old U2, They Might be Giants, The Eagles, Coldplay, Keane, Josh Rouse, The Killers, etc. I loved the station and was sad that I couldn't stream it once we got home. So, I reached out and contacted the owner, Door County radio pioneer, Justin Case, and asked him a few questions.
Here is my mini Door County Talks with the Lodge's Justin Case:
OnMilwaukee.com: What are the Milwaukee connection(s) at the Door County radio station The Lodge?
Justin Case: I (as Justin Case) worked for Saga Communications (WKLH, WHQG, WJMR and WFMR) from 1998 to 2001 as program director of the old "WPNT the Point" and as the first program director of Jammin' 106.9/98.3. Plus, spent three years ... on air at WMYX.
OMC: Is the Lodge a re-creation of the "failed" Point in Milwaukee?
JC: It is only by coincidence that the frequency is also 106.9 FM. When we did the search to see if there was any room here for a new signal ... it was 106.9 that popped up. Yes, very strange at the time; I guess it was just meant to be! It is similar in that it's sonically close with the new music we play ... a blend of currents from the Adult Alternative list as well as credible Adult Contemporary artists. Not so in the wider range of titles and artists. The Point was very new music based and had a very tight library of under 150 songs. The Lodge has an active list of over 500. The Point was a very special radio station, people still talk about it. Saga needed to give it more time to grow.
OMC: Where's the streaming? I want to listen online.
JC: Streaming should commence by the end of the year at fm1069thelodge.com. (-Ed. As of early November, you can listen online at http://www.fm1069thelodge.com/listen.cf )
OMC: How would you describe the format, and would it work in a larger market?JC: The singer / songwriter format of the Lodge is really defined as the reach between Van Morrison to John Mayer. Industry calls it "Adult Alternative" or "AAA" for short adding the word "album" in the middle. It is being done at many stations outside Milwaukee (Madison's WMMM "Triple M," Minneapolis' "Cities 97," Indianapolis' WTTS, and Chicago's WXRT) with much success, especially in the money demographics.
It can be customized to lean in several different directions to whatever the market would dictate ... more Alternative, more Pop based, less Classic Hit-driven, etc. For us at the Lodge in Door County, we take into the account that there hasn't been any version of this format here before, but at the same time have the liberty to be very broad. The radio programmers dream!
We do find that visitors find the station very familiar as they traditionally listen to the aforementioned stations at home. For the locals, we are taking special care in creating familiarity with the music whenever possible. When doing this type of radio station elsewhere, it would affect (and does affect) many stations in a traditional larger market cluster ... probably one of the reasons it takes the right situation for a company to do something like this. For example, if (radio group) Saga decided to do something similar to The Lodge, it would pull listeners from sisters WKLH and WHQG, something management would probably frown upon.
OMC: What are you hopes and dreams for The Lodge?
JC: It has taken eight years to get this project up and running! Thanks to all who have had a hand in it. Plenty of trips from friends from Brew City have been made to make it all work. As long as the bills get paid, and the emails of support and thanks keep coming, it's all I could have hoped for. Getting to live out a dream of owning my own radio station in one of the most beautiful parts of our country is about as good as it gets! I would though like to see a commercial version of the Adult Alternative format make a real run in Milwaukee. (But) it's not like I didn't try and make that happen in the last 10 years.
This station is absolutely awesome. We have a place in Door County and have it on all the time. We are in our 50's and really enjoy all the music. No, it is not sleepy elevator music. I wish they even played a little more Dave Matthews. It is music for all ages, but not the hard junk. Take a listen to it online. I think you will like it.
Radiohead | Oct. 22, 2008 at 2:45 p.m. (report)
The music mix is actually more diverse than Justin states. You really need to listen before forming an opinion. It's unlike any commerical station I've ever heard.
Actually, he just named a few core artists to give you a general idea of the basics. A sample hour listing would give you a better idea of the Lodge's wide variety of genres and artists, some good deep cuts, and they're all blended together very well. You might find Tom Petty, My Morning Jacket, Bob Marley, Jack Johnson and Roxy Music in a sample 15 minutes. If you get a chance to check it out (106.9 FM, and it's scratchy until you're within about 15-20 miles south of Sturgeon Bay), I think you'd find it pretty interesting and enjoyable.
No offense to the station owner - but I find it hard to get this worked up about such a bland radio lineup.
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