WJMT settles into new home
After leaving the Lincoln House due to its impending demolition, Merrill’s radio stations found a new home in a freshly refurbished building at 1106 W. Main St. WJMT/Z104 Radio’s brand new studio and office space is located on the island between the bridges to the Sixth Ward.
With the demolition of the Lincoln House looming, the radio station started planning its move last spring. They contacted building owner Randy Wixson in June, signed the lease in September and moved in October. When they first met with Wixson, the building was open, empty space.
“We walked in and got to design it and put the walls where we wanted them – we actually put chalk marks on the floor,” said station manager Jim Medley. “That was the exciting part.”
The new 1,000-square-foot space was custom designed to be a radio station, accommodating the separate WJMT AM and Z104 FM studios. All the equipment was moved over from the old studios to the new, but designing the space allowed for a more efficient operation, Medley said.
“The move was an opportunity to rest and build in efficiencies,” he said.
The WJMT AM studio got some needed improvements, including windows to the outside world.
“The AM is our heart and soul of Merrill,” Medley said. “We designed this studio to be bigger, brighter and more user friendly for both our staff and the guests we have in the studio every day.”
The Z104 FM studio is set up specifically for its needs, including French doors that expand the space for local bands to play live in the studio during the weekly Homegrown show.
Wixson purchased the property in 2009 after selling his business in Verona. In addition to constructing two storage buildings, which he operates as Lighthouse Storage, he totally rebuilt the existing warehouse structure on the site.
The metal-sided warehouse, originally built in the 1950s, was stripped to its steel skeleton and the old concrete was removed. The reconstruction was extensive, including new walls, floor plumbing and insulation.
“The only thing left (of the original building) is the foundation walls,” Wixson said. “It was kind of a fun project.”
Once Wixson was confident that the radio station would be occupying the space, he went ahead and finished the space to the station’s specifications.
The remaining 1,600 square feet of the building is newly occupied by Park City Cyclery bicycle shop.