WDLB: Changing hands
By Kris Leonhardt
Goetz Broadcasting continued ownership of the Wisconsin Dairyland Broadcasting station (WDLB) well into the 1990s.
“At the time Nathan Goetz owned (WDLB), an AM and FM in Reedsburg, an AM and FM in Fort Atkinson, and those were the three when I got here,” said former WDLB News Director Thom Gerretsen. “He then acquired an FM in New London.
“He sold (WDLB) in about 1997. … It was still Goetz Broadcasting when I covered the Super Bowls, so it was after 1997. He sold it to an outfit in Chicago called Marathon Media.”
In the early part of the following decade, Marathon Media sold out to a company named New Radio Group (NRG) and later NRG Media.
“All they wanted to be was a series of FM stations, the bigger power FM stations,” said Gerretsen.
While NRG Media desired to let go of its AM holdings, a familiar face would step forward to obtain Marshfield’s longtime radio station.
“I actually started doing play-by-play sports at WDLB in 1952, my senior year in high school,” said Don Seehafer. “I broadcast the Tigers and the Dons. Well, I think they were the Crows then, and they changed their name to the Dons.
“So I started part-time at WDLB as a senior in high school, and then after high school I was on air also. I did baseball in the summer, and I did a couple of radio programs and a sports show — all on basically a part-time basis. Then I left the fall of 1953.
“I worked there a very short period of time, but that is where I got my start. My thanks would go out to the late Bob Behling, who was managing the station at the time and gave me the opportunity.”
Seehafer later took a full-time position with the Flambeau Network before entering the United States Navy.
“When I returned from the Navy, myself and a cousin from Marshfield who also worked part-time with WDLB doing sports, Bob Johnson, bought a little radio station in St. Peter, Minnesota, a daytime AM radio station. We moved there with our families and built up that radio station, adding an FM in later years.
“I was there for 10 years, and then we expanded by buying the AM station in Manitowoc, where I am located now. Then a few years later we did a split off with him keeping the station in St. Peter, Minnesota, and me taking the station in Manitowoc.”
Seehafer further expanded, purchasing the WXCO station in Wausau and adding an FM station with the call letters WYCO. He also added stations in Rochester, Minnesota; Beloit; Janesville; and Winterhaven, Florida.
His broadcasting group fluctuated through the upcoming years as he bought and sold various stations before a purchase that was much closer to his roots.
“Eventually, we wound up with the opportunity to buy my hometown radio station, where my wife and I were from: WDLB and WOSQ now too,” added Seehafer. “Also, included in the purchase were the radio stations in Wisconsin Rapids: WFHR and WLJY.”
WDLB and WOSQ remain in the Seehafer Broadcasting Corporation group today.
Next week: The station today