A ‘Sound Choice’ Faces Its Possible Final Broadcast


Its broadcast radius is a mere 17 miles. Yet, since December 1978 this Ontonagon County, Mich., FM has proudly used its nine watts of power to serve the tiny county seat nestled along the shores of Lake Superior.

This may soon come to an end, however, due to an expansion action from the Gospel Opportunities Radio Network.

As first reported by Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink, WOAS-FM 88.5 in Ontonagon, Mich., faces its end as a simulcast partner of 100kw WHWL-FM 95.7 in Marquette, some two hours to the east, has been granted a Construction Permit by the FCC.

How is this possible? Under FCC regulatory policy, Gospel Opportunities Inc. received FCC approval for CPs tied to two stations. One would all but overpower WOAS, which is a Class D facility.

A Class D station lacks any FCC protection from interference. As such, the Ontonagon High School station is now being asked to find a new broadcast facility, or sign off. Station Manager Ken Raisanen learned of WHWL’s CPs in April 2023, and in an interview with the Detroit Free Press, WHWL General Manager Andy Larsen noted that its efforts to spread the Gospel follow FCC rules; there is no malicious intent to displace WOAS.

Getting a new facility won’t exactly come easy for WOAS, as station funding mainly comes from two snack vending machines in the school; all who work at the station are volunteers. However, news of WOAS’s potential demise has resulted in community support. In fact Raisanen, says he has managed to raise enough money to purchase a new transmitter for WOAS. This would up the power to 100 watts, and that’s enough to make WOAS potentially eligible for an upgraded FCC license.

Still, a frequency change could be in the works, as a community voice seek to secure its spot on the radio dial.

— Additional reporting by Cameron Coats