When Milwaukee-based Good Karma Brands LLC relocates its four radio stations and corporate offices later this year, it will end AM 620 WTMJ's 75-year history at the Radio City building on East Capitol Drive.
By early fall, the local radio station, along with FM 94.5 ESPN, AM 540 ESPN, and FM 101.7 The Truth are expected to be on the air from Good Karma's brand new studio on the ground floor of The Avenue development in downtown Milwaukee. The company's new office space, located on second floor directly above its studio, will be up and running even sooner, likely by late spring or early summer.
The move has been in the works for nearly three years - factoring in pandemic-related delays and uncertainty. And for a 25-year-old company that's hit its stride in recent years with the expansion of its ESPN footprint and the 2018 acquisition of longtime local stations WTMJ and WKTI, the move is more than just a change of scenery for Good Karma's 130 local employees, said Steve Wexler, vice president and market manager in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee.
"As much as we respect the history of where we've been, we all get that we want to chart our own course," said Wexler.
WTMJ has been around since 1927 and has operated out of Radio City since 1947, according to its website.
Fast forward a few decades and radio consumption looks quite different than it once did - and so do radio studios. Good Karma's new downtown studio facility was designed with that in mind. It's currently being built with all the modern-day bells and whistles, like cameras and video capability.
"People consume our content online, on digital, on social (media). We live stream many of our shows. Most people consume audio on their smart speakers, mobile devices, so these studios are going to be equipped for how people consume content today," said Wexler.
What's more, fans will have a new, more personal way to engage. The studio will have an interior-facing window on the west side of The Avenue's recently opened3rd Street Market Hall where people can get a look inside Good Karma's 24-hour news room and see talent broadcasting on air.
Wexler said the studio's showcase feature will help build rapport not only with fans and the broader community but also with business prospects.
"We’ll be able to entertain partners, which we love," he said. "Advertising partners will be able to see our studios, grab a bite, do business - we fully anticipate conducting commerce right in The Avenue."