BREEZY POINT — The radio station played soft, smooth music to go with the cozy, at-home feel of the station’s studio, nestled amongst the pine trees in Breezy Point. The comfortable mood was felt by many area and out-of-town people, as one of the first stations that vacationers heard on their way to the cabin.
“One of the things I think people remember most about us, are the trips to family cabins,” said Bob Bundgaard, Lakes Broadcasting general manager, the company that operates KLKS station 104.3 FM. “I have heard from so many people that when they hear (KLKS) music, they know they are close to being at the cabin and it gets them thinking lakes and pine trees.
“That’s something special.”
But radio station 104.3 FM will soon emit a very different tune. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the application to transfer the license from Lakes Broadcasting Group to Minnesota Christian Broadcasters Inc. (MCBI) based in Pequot Lakes. According to Bungaard, KLKS will air its last day of broadcasts on Tuesday and will go silent beginning Wednesday before MCBI moves WZFJ 100.1 FM The Pulse — a Christian contemporary station — to the 104.3 channel on Sept. 12.
“I think it’s going to be tough at first for people to adjust,” said Bundgaard of the station that his father first pioneered 28 years ago. “And really it is the people that made this station what it has become in the area.
“The best part about being here is the people. The lakes are beautiful, the pines are fantastic, but it’s the people.”
Home to soft and contemporary music for the past 28 years, along with live sports streams, weather and news updates and podcasts, Lakes Broadcasting Group began moving ahead with the sale of the station that has become known in the area as K-Lakes in July.
But this isn’t the first change for KLKS. In those 28 years of music, the station has changed with the times. Expanding from an original three broadcasters to its current six, and moving along with the technology, going from tape carts, to CDs to digital Mp3 and WAV files that are more common today.
Going out on top
The latest arbitron ratings — the syndicated radio ratings — listed KLKS tied for first with WJJY in the 12-plus age category, and as the lone No.1 for the 36-plus age.
“The fact that we’re No.1 in the older age group makes sense because we appeal to an older audience,” said Bundgaard. “But overall we feel pretty happy about the reception we received with that No.1 spot. It’s always nice to up there.”
“Life’s a banquet”
As the station turns another chapter, going from soft-adult contemporary music to Christian contemporary music format, a chapter in the lives of KLKS broadcasters and in Bungaard is changing, too.
“I have mixed emotions (about the sale),” said midday announcer, John Collins, a Motley native who has been with KLKS for 19 years. “It’s like the death of a beloved family pet.
“But you can look at it as either a dead end or a fork in the road. I think it’s a fork in the road.”
Collins said he would like to stay in broadcasting in someway after the station ends, but added that having some time off — for the first time for him since Vietnam — would be nice, too.
As for Bundgaard, the road remains uncertain, too, but he said he is looking forward to the next step. Whatever it may be.
“I don’t have anything lined up as of right now,” he said. “In a way, I have been focusing on being the project engineer to make sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible to go from Lakes Broadcasting to Christian Brothers broadcasting.
“Life’s a banquet. I’ll just see what the next thing is when it comes.”
A million thanks
The front desk is lined with what Bungaard said is “just a sample” of thank-you and farewell cards from people reacting to the loss of the station.
A fixture in the community, Bundgaard said the outpouring of appreciation is not lost on him or the station staff and makes saying goodbye a little tougher.
“We’ve received a lot of calls, one person wrote a (fake) check for ‘a million thanks’ and others saying ‘we will be missed’ and faithful fan appreciation and a bunch of ways that we have touched people,” Bundgaard said. “And that’s what we strive for. What we’ve always strived for. But you never really know until you come to a watershed event like this what you really do and how much people really care.
“Quite often DJs on the air, particularly during the evening hours, will be wondering if there is anybody out there, and does anybody care? And you find out, they really do. And it’s why we do this. Why we’ve been doing this.”