WLVE-FM 94.9 Baraboo Madison Wisconsin 1982

WLVE Love Stereo 95FM was the Beautiful Music outlet for Madison as well as for much of south central Wisconsin.  Though licensed to Baraboo (near Wisconsin Dells), their large signal footprint blanketed Madison and beyond.  With my receiver and antenna system, I had no problem hearing them on a regular basis from Apple Valley, MN. 

The big coverage is somewhat unusual, since Baraboo falls within the “Class B” region.  This means FM stations have a maximum output of 50,000 watts at 500 feet.  By comparison, the rest of Wisconsin is a “Class C region”, with maximums of 100,000 watts at 2,000 feet.  Chris Tarr (current engineer of 94.9, now WOLX), told me this is because WLVE was “grandfathered” into the new rules.  This allows them a tower height of 1,299 feet vs the 500 foot limit that would otherwise apply.  As everyone knows, height is king regarding distance coverage on FM!

This aircheck consists of two station breaks.  The weather forecast is given, followed by either a PSA and station identifier (first break) or Legal ID (second break.)  Very basic formatics.  The long “pause” between elements was common among Beautiful Music stations of this time.  I left the final pause intact so you could hear how “clean” the frequency was at my location.  The Winegard 10 element FM yagi antenna I used was extremely directional.  It had great rejection, especially off the sides of the beam.  I could hear four stations on 94.9 and separate all of them by rotating the antenna; KQDS/Duluth, WLVE/Baraboo, KGGO/Des Moines, and KQAA/Aberdeen.  All were received clearly and free of interference from each other.  Of course, this was before the FCC began shoehorning in several new stations and allowing translators on every so-called “open” FM frequency.  Reception of WLVE/WOLX would be impossible from this location today, due to co-channel KLCH in Lake City, MN.

In addition to the big Winegard beam, I used a Pioneer SX-3900 receiver, Alliance rotor, Belden RG59 ultra low loss coaxial cable, Technics stereo cassette deck, and Scotch Highlander 90 tape for this project.


PS: If you know who the announcer is in this clip, please let me know.  Thanks!

5 thoughts on “WLVE-FM 94.9 Baraboo Madison Wisconsin 1982

  1. jh

    “Love Stereo” was originally album rock in the early 70s. I don’t know when it switched to beautiful music, I suspect it was a bit ahead of the times with rock on FM.

    It was always a treat to pick up WLVE in Cedar Rapids and hear rock music in stereo, since we had Top 40 only on AM, 1600/KCRG and 1450/KLWW.

  2. Drew

    Hi Joel,

    Do you know if they always had that big signal and targeted Madison? Or did they start as a small Baraboo FM which upgraded later? Even with today’s crowded band conditions, that signal still covers a lot of ground. In the summer of 2008, I was able to hear WOLX from the NW Chicago suburbs to just west of La Crosse while driving I-90/94. Especially impressive when you consider they’re only 37,000 watts ERP.


  3. jh

    It apparently always had high power. I knew I had read something about it’s history, and after spending some time with Google I found it… http://www.fybush.com/sites/2008/site-080222.html

    Sounds like it was kept alive by the AM station in the early years, like many FMs.

  4. Drew

    I love Scott Fybush’s site. Always look forward to his annual road trips with tower visits. He did KWMT/KKEZ a few years ago. I looked at the pics of that building and said “It hasn’t changed since I was there!”

  5. Tim Ahlborn

    WLVE’s automation was located in the same building as WIBU-AM Poynette but was operated by a different staff. The automation was quite unique looking as the equipment racks were all woodgrain.

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