New owners signal return of WLTH to Gary
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 September 1, 2013 9:20PM
Gary citywide athletic director Earl Smith listens as state senator Lonnie Randolph speaks Wednesday evening during a town hall meeting by the IHSAA on class basketball at Merrillville High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2013 6:10AM
GARY — A trio of retired Gary educators are dialing up a rebirth of WLTH-1370 AM, once the call letters of one of the city’s most popular talk radio stations in the pre-Internet, pre-satellite era.
Marion Williams, his brother Tommy Williams and Earl Smith Jr. recently purchased the radio station and have moved it from Merrillville to the heart of downtown at 478 Broadway.
Their new format debuts Monday, although the group called Michillanna Broadcasting LLC, is still awaiting a Federal Communications Commission hearing and final approval of their license.
Passersby on Broadway can gawk at radio hosts chattering with their guests in the studio through large windows. There’s also seating for audience members on couches on a lower level across from the microphones and engineer desks.
“I think this is a location of high visibility,” said Marion Williams, a businessman, retired Gary principal and a Gary School Board member. “It’s in the center of the market we want to serve. It’s not just a Gary station. We want to serve the whole region.”
The Williams brothers have been in radio since their college days at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “Tommy taught me and I was the only kid on the campus who knew how to operate it after he left,” said Marion Williams. A local off-campus station hired him a year later as a dee-jay.
The group owns a sister station in South Bend, and another company called Southern Gulf Radio that operates stations in Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.
The trio has been busy lining up advertisers, planning programing and installing a new transmitter at Martin Luther King Drive and 23rd Ave.
Some popular holdover programs will be back. Natalie Ammons and Verlie Harris-Suggs, known as “Coffee and Cream,” will take the mikes for a “brunch and lunch” program from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’ll welcome guests and talk about people in the news.
Businessman John Key is hosting the 6 to 9 a.m. slot with Tommy Williams and they’ll discuss major news issues and welcome public officials.
The programming includes a bartering show at 10 a.m. in which listeners can sell items and from 2 to 6 p.m. host T.J. Steel will spin soul and blues.
Live sports aren’t in the mix yet, but Smith, a former coach and city athletic director, will host a sports show from 8 to 9 a.m.
Saturday programs include several local community hosts including the Rev. Dwight Gardner, Naomi Millender, Barbara Leek, Jonathon Boose and Jim Nowacki.