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CROWN POINT - When entrepreneur John Meyer established a radio station in

Crown Point 22 years ago, he had one goal in mind: to provide the community

with its own broadcast outlet.

Meyer did that.

But at the end of May, WWJY-FM's signal will go off the air and the

station's studio will be shuttered.

Meyer decided to relinquish the reins of the station in 1994 by selling it

to Thomas McDermott, owner of M & M Broadcasting Co.

McDermott has been leasing the radio studio, located on the southwest corner

of 101st Avenue and Broadway, and will do so until sale of the station license

is finalized with Z Spanish Radio Inc. of Sacramento, Calif.

Meyer claims the closing will leave a void in the community, though

McDermott recently purchased WZVN-FM of Merrillville/Lowell in order to

continue providing local programming in south Lake County.

Meyer nostalgically recalls that since 1981, listeners got a potpourri of

news broadcasts, area high school sports and talk radio that incorporated input

from local business and municipal leaders.

"We took great pride in the fact that our format fit the needs of our area

listeners," Meyer said. "That was the original premise of why I created the

station."

An offer he couldn't refuse

But Meyer offered the station for sale and McDermott, the president of the

Northwest Indiana Forum and owner of other stations, bought the Crown Point

station. He recently sold his interest in WWJY and that of WABT-FM in Elgin,

Ill., for a reported $3.9 million.

Although Meyer wishes the station was still locally owned, he stresses that

McDermott did not seek out a buyer. "They found him," Meyer said.

Meyer blames deregulation legislation for causing a glut of buyers in the

market that may have influenced McDermott to sell the radio station.

But McDermott disagrees. "Whenever you buy a radio station you buy for an

investment," he said. "You don't buy for any other reason."

McDermott admits it was an offer he couldn't refuse and notes the station's

new Hispanic format will fill a void in the area, home to Indiana's largest

Hispanic population.

McDermott owns two other stations: WIMS-AM in Michigan City and WCGO-AM in

Chicago Heights. He recently purchased WJOB-AM in Hammond and its sister

station, WZVN-FM in Merrillville.

McDermott said the pending sale of the Crown Point station should be

completed May 31.

Community responds

Crown Point Chamber of Commerce president Gayle Van Sessen says she and

"probably every chamber president" who has preceded her appreciated the fact

the chamber had access to a local radio station for weekly programming.

"The station provided us with a vehicle to introduce new businesses and gave

us an outlet we probably couldn't have had otherwise," said Van Sessen. "Not

having that is a loss to our community."

Paul Anderson, who served as news director for WWJY from 1989 to 1994,

echoes those sentiments.

"There's been talk about other local broadcasting, but it won't be the

same," said Anderson. "What we (at WWJY) had was a station that was exclusive

to the city of Crown Point. We would broadcast meetings from city hall and give

our audience a chance to get firsthand news. When the station goes off the air,

that link will be broken."

Crown Point resident Kitty Conley, a former employee of the station and now

affiliated with the Regional Sports Network, says the biggest void for the

community will be the lack of south county sports broadcasting.

"The kids in all our area got fantastic sports coverage ... and a lot of

positive exposure through the radio broadcasts at J-Y that they won't get now,"

Conley said.

Velinka Isailovich has worked as a broadcaster at the station since its

inception.

Every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m., Isailovich hosts the "American Serbian Hour,"

a program that focuses on area public announcements and Serbian music. She said

that format has lured many listeners from her ethnic community.

The 66-year-old Crown Point resident said the demise of the station this

month has created quite a stir among her listeners.

"We have a very large Serbian population in Lake County, and four Serbian

churches, and had listeners as far as South Chicago," said Isailovich. "Our

people were very disappointed to learn we won't be doing a program any longer

from Crown Point, and I am saddened to be leaving the station after all these

years."

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