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V-Teck: Proving that after 30 years, local radio can still be successful (Audio included)

Lou VitoThis week is the 30-year anniversary of V-Teck Communications. President Lou Vito acquired the AM and FM radio stations in Bellefontaine on December 2, 1987. It is a company that has embraced the technological advances of the industry while maintaining a positive, comfortable workplace environment. It hasn't hurt that several loyal, dedicated staff members have stayed for years providing a consistency that is typical of many successful businesses.

Ironically, Bellefontaine's first AM station called WOHP (Ohio's Highest Point) and would later be until, just recently, WBLL went on the air for the first time on December 1, 1951. It was built and owned by Charles H. Chamberlain. His son Douglas is a prominent Bellefontaine attorney.

In 1968, Chamberlain built FM radio station WOGM (Ohio's Good Music) that would later become WPKO. The building that housed the stations was located in the same spot as they are today. Charlie passed away in 2001 at age 83.

His son Doug, in a recent interview, shared that Charlie felt that to get businesses to advertise, the programming had to be local. Broadcasting sporting events and having local daily news shows were essential to attract listeners. The only difference was that radio broadcast many more live musical events. Charlie was a huge jazz buff and would go to Indian Lake on Saturday night and record live shows.

Listen to the complete interview with Doug Chamberlain.

As part of the traditional value that Vito embraces, local news and high school sports broadcasts are the cornerstone to attracting advertisers. Listeners have many more options today. Vito thinks there is still an audience that wants to hear school delays, fair reports, and get complete local news coverage.

In 1987, Vito was was working in sales at WBNS in Columbus and anxious to venture out on his own. Oddly, Bellefontaine was the first station he visited but looked at several others including some from out of state before circling back.

He had several reasons for choosing Bellefontaine. The station was having financial difficulties and the purchase price was reasonable. Honda was new to the area. He liked how close it was to Columbus. In fact, he took advantage of his contacts there for several of his early hires. He soon discovered that Bellefontaine was a great place to raise a family.

Lou and his wife Judy have two children, Linzee, 32, and and Olympic snowboarder Louie, 29. Judy has worked at the station for over 20 years doing most of the accounting and bookkeeping. She also owns Judy's Jazzercise.

Station manager Chad Wilkinson started as a producer for the station in 1994 at age 19. He graduated from Riverside High School, which at the time, was one the few schools that had their own radio station. His interest started there. He graduated from the International College of Broadcasting in Dayton.

His rise in V-Teck was rapid. He went from being a producer to part-time on-air to doing the Night Mix to hosting the Morning Show for 20 years. He was named operations manager in 1999 at age 24.

Listen to Wilkinson recap the station's growth and keys to success.

News director Bill Tipple started in March of 1993. He is from LaGrange, Ohio and graduated from Ashland University with a degree in Radio/TV. He heard about the opening in Bellefontaine while working at TV8 in Cleveland. He had never heard of Bellefontaine but was excited about the on-air opportunities that he was not getting in Cleveland.

He also serves multiple roles at the station. In addition to news director, he broadcasts many basketball and football games (usually Bellefontaine High School). He loves both aspects of his job and teasingly says the only job he would take is one with the Ohio State Buckeyes sports department.

Listen to Tipple reminisce on his career.

Chris Oaks served as the morning show host on WPKO from 1988 to 1995. He still has fond memories of his time here.

Listen to Oaks reflect on his nearly seven years on WPKO.

Robert Wagner was the operations manager from January 1988 to 1997. He helped lay the foundation for many of the stations' practices still used today.

Wagner said the motto "Better Communications for a Better Community" really was true.

Listen to the complete interview with Wagner.

You would think after 29 years, Vito would be considering retirement. Far from it. In January 2017 a second FM station, The Drive, was launched. The WBLL (1390 and 106.9 FM) launched the Christmas Station in early November. The FM signal is located in Urbana. The station will transition to a new format early next year.

Plus, Vito is exploring recent technological changes like podcasts and HD broadcasting. The changes and the new stations have invigorated him to the point that he jokingly says that he may never retire.

Listen to Vito reflect on 30 years and more.

We encourage open dialogue among people who may disagree. Difficult conversations must be had sometimes to make progress. If you disagree, please disagree respectfully. Cruelty will not be tolerated. This is a family friendly group.
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1501 County Road 235, Bellefontaine, OH 43311-9505
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