The NEW WYMS!

Radio Milwaukee If you haven't heard it yet, STOP, go to your radio, and turn on the new WYMS 88.9.
This is totally fresh. No more purchased jazz programming.
This is an eclectic mix of rock, dance, hip-hop, R&B, and new music of all sorts.
After more than three years of promising something new, the School Board has done something I never expected, they delivered.
This may be the best radio in Milwaukee. Listen for yourself, and see my comments below in "What is Happening?".

the Story... What is Happening? What People are Saying . . .

Updated 2007 March 14.

What's New:
WYMS' eclectic music mix may be hard sell... - March 12, 2007
The long-anticipated remake of WYMS-FM (88.9) is officially complete today... - March 4, 2007
RADIO MILWAUKEE DEBUTS. - February 27, 2007
WYMS now 'RadioMilwaukee'. - February 26, 2007
Visit the NEW WYMS web site. - Feb. 24, 2007
WYMS' new format - Feb 24, 2007
'RadioMilwaukee' converting to new format. - February 23, 2007

Links to WYMS and MPS
Jazz 89
Links will open a new browser window.

I have a new Forum.
There are no annoying pop-up-ads.
New Forum.

You can still visit the old Forum, but I will not put any new information there.
Old Forum.

Here is the Story...

The Milwaukee School Board owns and operates radio station WYMS (Your Milwaukee Schools). The station used to broadcast locally produced children's programs, locally produced jazz programs, locally produced ethnic programs, and in the late hours; contract jazz and electronic music. Weekend ethnic programs were hosted by volunteers who provided their own, recorded music. The station was funded by the School System, and subsidised by a local nonprofit organization called "Friends of WYMS" who raised moneys through on air fund-raisers, and some off site events.

On April 29, 2002 the Milwaukee School Board administrators and the School Superintendent locked the door to the studio at the Milwaukee School System Administration building and gave the paid staff their notices of termination of employment. The many volunteers who hosted local programs were denied access to the studio. Although the School Board is the actual owner of the station, they were not consulted. In the following days the School administrators had the station simulcast programming from another local public radio station, and later hired a contract program service to provide eight to ten hours of jazz per day, which is repeated as necessary to fill the twenty-four hour broadcast day.

On May 20, 2002 the School Board held a special meeting to air ideas for the disposition of the station. The meeting filled with angry listeners who demanded to have their previous programming returned. Some School Board members claimed the station cost too much, and the "Friends" contributions were negligible. The Friends said that they contributed more than the School System did. The School Board was clearly divided, and could not reach any consensus.

The School Board created a Community Advisory committee consisting of prominent independent citizens whose mission was to find the best plan for the future of WYMS. The Committee decided to ask that interested parties in the community make proposals to manage the station for the benefit of the school system. The Committee received only one proposal, and that was from the nonprofit "Friends of WYMS" organization. The Committee recommended to the School Board that they accept the Friends proposal, but the Board would not agree.

The School board remains divided. WYMS still is broadcasting contracted programming. The Friends are still struggling to bring community-based programming back to Milwaukee.

It seems to me that  this comes down to an issue of control. There are certain people on the School Board who feel they must be in control of this radio station. It doesn't matter that this station had award winning children's programming, or that the station was largely supported by community contributions and run with volunteer help. Certain people on the School Board were not in control, and they couldn't stand it.

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What is Happening?
Thursday, March 14. Radio Milwaukee has been on the air with live hosts for almost two weeks. They sound good. They are trying to carve out a unique place for themselves in Milwaukee. They present an interesting sound, and offer welcome variety to Milwaukee's stunted radio scene. But will Milwaukee support them? Radio Milwaukee really doesn't compete with any of the local commercial radio stations; instead, they are more likely to pull listeners from WUWM's World Café or the always eclectic WMSE. WUWM is well established in Milwaukee, and has shown it has a loyal listener base that can and will support them with cash. WMES has a low profile, catering to small fragments of the Milwaukee audience, but they can operate at a lower level of funding because much of their staff is volunteer. It remains to be seen if WYMS can garner an audience who will support it financially. WYMS may find that WUWM will adjust their music to appeal to more urban professionals, in order to gain their ear, and their checkbooks. I wish WYMS well, because Milwaukee radio needs the variety.

Tuesday, February 27. The Station Manager of WYMS e-mailed me and told me that they would suspend the fundraising promos for now, until they establish themselves. They also will start live on-air personalities next week. I think live personalities will improve the station's sound. I look forward to next week.

Monday, February 26. I listened to this station much of Saturday, off and on; and much of today, their inaugural broadcast day.
This station has two major flaws.
1. Although I like the great variety of music that they play, there is no focus. The music moves from classic rock, to house dance, to funk, to hip-hop, to jazzy pop, and on and on; and I have to wonder who their intended audience is. This is fun to listen to, but it is not compelling. People will not listen to this for long. If this is aimed at Milwaukee School students, it is probably too diverse for such a young audience. I would love to be proven wrong.
2. They have been on for only a few hours, and they have asked for donations because they are a non-profit radio station. Well, this is a sure sign that they will not last. Most non-commercial radio stations solicit donations from loyal listeners because they are providing a valuable service to their audience. This station has no audience, and hasn't proven that it provides a valuable service. If they can't afford to be on the air for a year while they build an audience, and community support, they are doomed.

February 24, 2007; we are witnessing the birth of Radio Milwaukee. Right now they are playing promotional programming, but it sounds good. They will go live Monday, February 26.

The Proceedings (or minutes) of The Milwaukee Board of School Directors special meeting from September 11, 2003. This meeting discusses the proposal to run the Station from the group known as "Radio for Milwaukee". See page 36 of 60.

The Friends of WYMs have sent their members a letter explaining that they have declined to respond to the latest request by the School Board for a proposal to run the station. This leaves the door open for Jeff Sherman's group (see below) to take over the station.

OnMilwaukee.com co-owner and Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM) president Jeff Sherman is forming a group that is now emerging with a vision for the station to program a mix of alternative, jazz and other under-represented forms of music, particularly focusing on the local music scene.

The Milwaukee School Board releases it's revised Requests for Proposal to run radio station WYMS. This document is curiously called "RFP-397 WYMS Final Document - 4/22/03" (A 291KB many-page Word document.) The deadline for responses is June 4, 2003.

The Milwaukee School Board releases its proposed budget for 2004. (This is a 1.33MB Acrobat file) WYMS is on the last page. This document notes this:
"The community advisory board reviewed an audit completed in November of 2002 and decided to seek an outside vendor to operate the station. The parameters for a request for proposals (RFP) were defined. That RFP, which requested continued Jazz programming on the station, drew only one response, (from the Friends of WYMS) which the administration elected not to open.

The advisory board met again in March 2003 and decided that programming restrictions contained within the RFP - including its emphasis on jazz -- should be loosened in an effort to encourage more proposals. The RFP was amended and reissued on April 24, 2003."

The Milwaukee School Board shows its lack of understanding by proposing a 33% salary increase for Board members while cutting teaching positions. This demonstrates that the Board has no grip on reality and does not understand what it means to be in a position of leadership. I expect most 15 year olds would be able to see the error in this decision. The Board's inept attempt to raise their own pay in these times of budget deficits and spending cuts illustrates that they are out of touch with their constituents, and that they are only thinking about themselves.
After 3 days, MPS board rescinds its pay raise (5/2/03)
School Board expected to revoke raise at special meeting (5/1/03)
School Board slammed on pay vote (4/30/03)

At the February 27 meeting the School Board demonstrated it's paralysis once more. Some wanted to move forward with community programming at WYMS, but some did not. In the end, they could not decide anything except to adjourn. See the transcript of the meeting.

A meeting of the WYMS Advisory Committee is scheduled for Friday March 28 at 1:00pm at Central Services Room 155.

Here is an excerpt from the proceedings of the School Board meeting of January 14. My comments are in parentheses (like this).

"The Board President reported on the status of the WYMS Advisory Committee and its recommendations and the process for soliciting requests for proposals (RFPs) to operate WYMS. (The status is that the board asked interested parties to submit a plan to operate WYMS, and the only plan that was presented was the plan from the Friends of WYMS!) Director Blewett moved that the sole response to RFP 365, Operation and Programming of MPS Radio Station WYMS be opened for consideration, and if deemed reasonable, be accepted.

After discussion and without objection, Director Blewett withdrew his motion."

Go figure. I have been to these meetings, and I have seen this strange behavior myself. People make motions, argue in favor of restoring the station, but then they give up. The entire proceeds of the meeting are available online.

MPS has budgeted over $376,000. to run WYMS this year! Last year with their old staff it only cost them $285,000. Where is the savings? See their budget.

Peter Zehren, former president of the Friends of WYMS, is now on-air fund-drive producer at WGBO-FM, a Newark, N.J., jazz station. Eddie Pendzich is the new Friends president.
JS Online: SPINNING THE DIAL - Last Updated: Jan. 16, 2003 (Scroll down.)

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What People are Saying . . .
JS Online: JS ONLINE: WYMS' eclectic music mix may be hard sell for Milwaukee audience . Posted: March 12, 2007.

JS Online: SPEAKING OF CHANGE: The long-anticipated remake of WYMS-FM (88.9) is officially complete today... Posted: March 4, 2007.

Triplearadio.com: RADIO MILWAUKEE DEBUTS. Monday, February 27, 2007.

The Business Journal of Milwaukee: WYMS now 'RadioMilwaukee'. Monday, February 26, 2007.

JS Online: WYMS' new format, to be revealed in February, will be unique to city. - Last Updated: Feb 24, 2007.

The Business Journal of Milwaukee: 'RadioMilwaukee' converting to new format. - February 23, 2007.

The Business Journal of Milwaukee: WYMS-FM to launch new format in July. - March 31, 2006.

Joe Puerta News: MILWAUKEE MUSICIAN-RUN STATION LANDS TOP PUBLIC RADIO EXEC. - January 17, 2005.

JS ONLINE: NEWS: MILWAUKEE: WYMS-FM deal nearly complete. Posted:- Nov. 16, 2004.

JS Online: School Board advances radio station plan - Last Updated: Sept. 26, 2003

JS Online: Station for, about city being proposed - Last Updated: Sept. 22, 2003

JS Online: WYMS change coming? - Last Updated: Sept. 3, 2003 (Scroll down.) 

JS Online: German radio programming is back on - Last Updated: June 18, 2003 (Scroll down.) 

OnMilwaukee.com Milwaukee Buzz: Group seeks to reformat WYMS with local bent - 05:19 a.m. May 13, 2003

The Milwaukee School Board shows its lack of understanding by proposing a 33% salary increase for Board members while cutting teaching positions. This demonstrates that the Board has no grip on reality and does not understand what it means to be in a position of leadership. I expect most 15 year olds would be able to see the error in this decision. The Board's inept attempt to raise their own pay in these times of budget deficits and spending cuts shows that they are out of touch with their constituents, and that they are only thinking about themselves.
After 3 days, MPS board rescinds its pay raise (5/2/03)
School Board expected to revoke raise at special meeting (5/1/03)
School Board slammed on pay vote (4/30/03)

Milwaukee Public Schools-Audit Services has made its reports available on-line. These findings are from November of 2002, but still offer interesting reading.
Review of WYMS, A Public Radio Station Operated by the Milwaukee Public Schools
November 2002 Audit # 2002-33
Executive Summary
Audit Recommendations

JS Online: Board members still wrestling over WYMS-FM - Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2003

JS Online: Milwaukee lost a locally staffed jazz station... - Last Updated: Dec. 23, 2002 (Scroll down.)

Report: Greater accountability needed for WYMS - 2002-11-29 - The Business Journal

Operator sought for MPS radio station - 2002-10-28 - The Business Journal of Milwaukee

AlterNet: No Community Voices Wanted - Last Updated October 22, 2002 AlterNet.org

JS Online: Community connection called key for jazz radio (an interview with Peter Zehren ) - Last Updated: Sept. 3, 2002

Support WYMS | Jazz With Bob Parlocha  - "My sincere thanks for your support over the years. Milwaukee has established itself as a thriving jazz town in spite of the pratfalls of municipal economics. Don't give up hope. With your support, mainstream jazz will survive." Bob Parlocha

JS Online: New WYMS jazz format isn't music to many ears - Last Updated: Aug. 7, 2002

JS Online: Milwaukee News Briefs: 12 named to WYMS advisory committee - Last Updated: June 15, 2002 (Scroll down.)

JS Online: Korte resigns as MPS superintendent - Last Updated: June 14, 2002

JS Online: Goodbye to old, new favorites - Last Updated: June 12, 2002 (Scroll down.)

Shepherd Express Metro: plenty of horne For WYMS Donors - June 6, 2002 (Scroll down.)

JS Online: Board faction fires shot over health care - Last Updated: May 30, 2002 (Scroll down.)

Shepherd Express Metro: taking liberties Media Can Be an Educational Tool MPS should enhance its radio station - May 30, 2002

JS Online: Jazz lovers sound some sour notes over recent static at WYMS-FM - Last Updated: May 29, 2002

JS Online: Final hearing on MPS budget draws scores of people - Last Updated: May 24, 2002

JS Online: Static over MPS station gets louder - Last Updated: May 21, 2002

JS Online: In MPS' hour of need, Korte, board must put their squabbles aside - Last Updated: May 19, 2002 (This is a little off base, but interesting.)

JS Online: Korte, MPS backtrack on WYMS - Last Updated: May 17, 2002

JS Online: Korte puts job on the line battling for MPS parent center - Last Updated: May 15, 2002 (This is a little off base, but a good read.)

JS Online: WYMS fans mourn the demise of area's last holdout of jazz - Last Updated: May 15, 2002

JS Online: Lawyers tell MPS to reclaim radio station - Last Updated: May 9, 2002

Shepherd Express Metro: plenty of horne Spence Korté's Ethnic Cleansing - May 9, 2002

Shepherd Express Metro: news Jazz No More? - May 9, 2002

JS Online: MPS radio deal may not be a money-saver - Last Updated: May 7, 2002

JS Online: Donors don't have clout on public TV - Last Updated: May 6, 2002

JS Online: The Morning Mail - Last Updated: May 2, 2002 (Scroll to the bottom.)

JS Online: WYMS donors will have to dial for refunds - Last Updated: May 2, 2002

JS Online: THE LAST FUND DRIVE - Last Updated: April 30, 2002 (Scroll to the bottom.)

JS Online: Unclear future for WYMS  - Last Updated: May 1, 2002

WUWM takes over MPS radio station - 2002-04-30 - The Business Journal of Milwaukee.

JS Online: Why did WYMS die so quickly? - Last Updated: April 30, 2002

JS Online: MPS turns radio station over to UWM - Last Updated: April 29, 2002

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Other Links . . .
RadioDailyNews.com ... "... radio and media news, and information Web site."

JS Online: Tim Cuprisin - Inside TV & Radio in Milwaukee

Friends of WYMS concert. Hear Swing Nouveau at Serb Hall and support Friends of WYMS.

MPS RADIO STATION WINS NATIONAL AWARD Milwaukee Public Schools brags about WYMS winning an award for it's jazz programming!

Also see my home page. Contact webmaster "ray@home4c.com".