Local radio voice Eric Paulsen – who also hosts TV's "Discover Wisconsin" – has launched a pair of radio steams on Live365 that take inspiration from and pay homage to two classic Milwaukee radio stations.
His 93QFM stream can be heard here, playing classic rock and early ‘80s metal and hair bands.
Meanwhile, a WLUM-FM Hot 102 stream, with R&B and hip-hop, can be heard here.
“The idea came from me and my friend Marc, we've both worked in radio for a long time and we loved the idea of bringing back old school stations online,” says Paulsen.
“We did some dry runs with these several years back but online-only stations have to grapple with extra music royalty and licensing issues and it proved too much of an obstacle for a while. More recently we found the Live365 platform and that – for the right fees, of course – handle all that for you. So I decided to give it another go.”
WQFM was a station that broadcast at 93.3 FM from 1958 until 1996, working through a number of formats: big band, jazz, classical, Top 40 and others – until it landed on album rock in 1973. It had its offices and studios in the Wisconsin Tower on 6th and Wisconsin, where DJ Tim 'The Rock & Roll Animal' U'ren famously sat out on a ledge until The Who agreed to add Milwaukee to its 1982 tour.
The frequency is now used by the pop B93.3 station.
Currently a rock station, 102.1, the frequency is among the oldest in town, dating to 1940 when it went on air as the experimental W9XAO. Later, it was an FM sister station to WTMJ-AM. Over the years, it was also WMKE and WAWA-FM.
When it was bought by former Packers star Willie Davis, it switched to disco and later became WLUM and Hot 102 thrived until the mid-1990s, when it transitioned to rock.
So why these two?
“I picked them because I loved them when they were around – especially at their peaks – and to be able to recreate them, at least to some extent, online nowadays is something I couldn't resist,” Paulsen says. “When you're a radio person, it just sticks with you.
“As for others, if somehow these can generate some decent sponsorship revenue and it becomes financially attractive, or at least feasible, to do so we will look to launch some others. An alt station focusing on ‘80s with some ‘70s and ‘90s would be cool, too. But we shall see. This is a labor of love and only if they develop nicely would I keep them going long-term.
The audio on the webcasts is not re-airing of original broadcasts, but more a recreation of what you might hear on those broadcasts.
“We're not sharing original broadcasts, although I'd love to,” says Paulsen. “I don't have enough raw original recordings of the station to rebroadcast – or webcast – them. But if people wanted to contribute recordings, I'll accept them!
“The approach with this is to recreate QFM to some extent. I'm keeping the music ‘70s and ‘80s rock with some ‘90s and a sprinkling of late ‘60s... for now. I'm planning on some additional programming features I'll tell you about later. Other than (DJ) David Lee, who read me these badass liners several years ago.”
Paulsen hasn’t gotten any feedback yet from any original WQFM staff, though he did alert at least one of them about it.
“I did tell Steve Palec about it conceptually,” Paulsen says. “I just don't have direct contacts to many of them, but I'd love to have discussions with them and maybe – if possible – have them 'on the air' on it.
"I did have a conversation with Mark Krueger, and friends are putting me in touch with others. I'd love to add DJs in certain timeslots too, but one thing at a time."
In the meantime, word is getting out about the webcasts, says Paulsen.
“One former QFMer apparently was listening and told (Old Milwaukee Facebook group administrator and WQFM fan) Adam Levin he was loving it, and that he could almost smell the pot and cigarettes again.” (laughs)
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.