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The 1950s were an iconic era, a representative slice of Americana when poodle skirts, cross-country road trips and the beginnings of rock’n’roll coexisted.


LPFM station WRLR of Round Lake Heights, Ill., celebrates this decade weekly with the “The Fabulous 50s” show, which is broadcast by Forest FM, a volunteer-run radio station in the United Kingdom.


WRLR President Bish Krywko said that when Forest FM’s “The Fabulous 50s” hosts Paul Peters and Geoff Kemp announced their retirement, the two stations decided it would be appropriate to sponsor a road trip on Route 66, a venture they dubbed the Mother Road Tour.



“Since I was a small kid back in the ’50s and ’60s, I have been mad about radio, and I’ve always wanted to get over to the States to see, with my own eyes, a real American radio station,” Peters explained.


Krywko said Peters was keen on seeing both the famous cross-country route and “the radio stations and people who had a role in what listeners in automobiles heard while traveling.”


They hope to have Peters, Kemp, WRLR morning drive host Paul Lepek and technical staff, including Steve Sandman, travel from Illinois to Santa Monica, Calif. To start, they’ve opted to keep the trip within Illinois.

Paul Peters and Geoff Kemp

It will begin June 6, at Lou Mitchell’s restaurant in downtown Chicago, near where Route 66 starts, with the last major stop in Atlanta, Ill., at the Palms Grill Café on June 11. Along the way, they will stop and speak with Route 66 historians and enthusiasts. A highlight will also be a broadcast from Pontiac Route 66 Museum’s recreated studio exhibit, which features working ’60s radio equipment.

From a business perspective, the tour is both an opportunity and a challenge. According to Krywko, WRLR would hope to have sponsors pick up the tab (i.e. underwrite) and enable the station to break even — which may or may not happen. The opportunity, he says, is promotional: to bring attention to stations like WRLR and Forest FM, which, he says, have an old-fashioned but successful take on radio.


The WRLR team is accustomed to doing remotes, but “on this tour we decided to approach Comrex and asked them to loan us equipment too expensive for us to own,” Krywko said. “We felt such a unique tour filled with many once-in-a-lifetime remotes required the quality and reliability found in professional gear that is easy to use.” In response to the request, Comrex will provide a portable Access Stereo BRIC IP audio codec for remote use, in addition to a rackmount unit for the studio.



“Ideally, we’ll be able to work with our partners along the route to access a broadband connection (i.e. cable or DSL) without outgoing ports or protocols blocked, quite common for remotes at high schools,” Chris Zeman, WRLR’s Web and automation manager, said about the remote broadcasts. “It’s preferable to have mobile broadband available as a backup plan, not your only plan.”


Lake County Journal
Thursday, September 13, 2012

By SHAWNA HENDRIX - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

High school football is in full swing as fans gather in the bleachers to watch their favorite players beneath those Friday night lights. Up in the press box, WRLR 98.3 FM is kicking off its sixth year broadcasting Lake County’s games.

WRLR Sports Director and Sports Corner Co-Host Rusty Silber teamed up with Morning Drive Talk Show Host Paul Lepek Sept. 7 at Vernon Hills High School to broadcast live as the Cougars battled the Antioch Sequoits.


Rusty Silber, sports director/host-Sports Corner and Paul Lepek, producer/host, for WRLR 98.3 FM - Round Lake Radio, broadcast the Antioch varsity football game against Vernon Hills in the press box at Vernon Hills High School. (Candace H. Johnson, LCJ)

“We’re doing it for the fans. We’re doing it for the community,” Lepek said as he set up his computer equipment and taped a team roster to the glass in front of him. “We do get personal enjoyment out of it too, but our primary focus is to the community. For people who are here that could actually tune into the station literally as they’re sitting in the stands. For those fans that can’t make it to the game tonight, they can also tune in to or 98.3 and get it at home.”
As both teams took to the field and began scrimmaging, Silber and Lepek started their broadcast, discussing top players and predictions for which team might take the win. Lepek muttered to the side that Antioch could secure the night’s victory, though Silber remained unsure.
“We do our homework,” Lepek said. “I’ve looked at how Antioch has done the past two games, I’ve looked at how Vernon Hills has done the past two games, I’ve looked at the comments by both coaches, highlights of the players and things to expect from tonight’s game so that we can give a good quality commentary to the game as we witness it here tonight between Antioch and Vernon Hills.
Slber added, “I talk to the coaches before the game, get the rosters, game information if they can help us out. We also look at the area newspapers, they can help us out too.”

Silber, who is also a freelance sports writer for the Daily Herald, has been sports writing since 1987 and began sports broadcasting in 1988, covering the Lake County community.

“I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. To me there’s excitement, it’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s doing something for the kids and the community,” Silber said, as the roar of the fans echoed inside the press box.

Silber held binoculars throughout the game, making sure he was accurate while calling out players’ names and yards earned. There was no mistaking the final score, though, as the Sequoits defeated the Cougars 22-10.

Heading into game four of the season, there’s no way to tell who will clinch the North Suburban Prairie Conference just yet.

“All I can say is Lakes is considered the favorite based on what everyone has talked about the start of the year, but it’s hard to make any predictions because the players on the field are the ones that are gonna make it happen,” Silber said. “The kids out there are gonna make it happen out there. They’ve gotta play against each other. You can make predictions but as us announcers have seen over the years, you don’t know what you’re gonna expect.

“You can predict something but it doesn’t always happen that way by the end of the season. But I will say Lake County football has progressed to a great level, just like any sport. One thing I’ll say that I’ve learned over the years is that it doesn’t matter what sport we’re talking about, football, soccer, any sport, North Suburban Conference is a battle every time they get on the field.”
WRLR 98.3 FM is a low-power radio station that operates out of Round Lake Heights, covering Lake County 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The station is administered and staffed by volunteers.
“We don’t get paid for this. So consequently, our president Bish Krywko recruited Rusty, recruited myself, recruited [Sports Corner Host] Pat Cameron, most of the staff members on our station, there’s probably close to 40-45 staff members, they’re all volunteers that take care of the station and do the broadcast and produce our own programs. All income that comes in is totally donation or sponsorship that goes to the upkeep of the radio station,” Lepek said.
“We do things to the people and for the people. We’re totally community focused, that’s the purpose of the station in general. We like it and we’re dedicated to the community,” Lepek said.
Silber has developed a nine-week schedule to broadcast the Lake County football games. “Hopefully we’ll even go downstate to Champaign and cover whatever Lake County team goes down there cause we are representative of Lake County,” Lepek said.

Broadcast schedule

WRLR will be broadcasting live from the following games. You can catch coverage on WRLR.FM or on 98.3 FM
9/14- Friday- Vernon Hills @ Wauconda- 7:30 p.m.
9/22- Saturday- Vernon Hills @ Grant- 1:00 p.m. (Homecoming)
9/28- Friday- Wauconda @ Lakes- 7:30 p.m (Homecoming)
10/6- Saturday- Wauconda @ Round Lake- 1:00 p.m. (Homecoming)
10/12- Friday- St. Patrick @ Carmel- 7:30 p.m.
10/19- Friday- Grant @ Antioch- 7:30 p.m.

From Left:Bish Krywko, President. Bruce Williams, Volunteer. Dave Sanocki, Station Manager

Daily Herald 1/23/2009

Story By Bob Susnjara | Daily Herald Staff

A low-wattage community radio station run by volunteers in Round Lake Heights has received a financial gift from a high-powered foundation that'll help keep it on the air.

WRLR-FM 98.3 received $15,000 from the Edith-Marie Appleton Foundation, which station representatives said will go toward a new professional sound board and construction of a second studio.

Chicago arts philanthropist Albert Goodman, who heads the Appleton Foundation, became aware of WRLR's equipment problems and authorized the contribution the station received Wednesday. Appleton, who died in 1999, was Goodman's mother.

WRLR President Bish Krywko said Friday that part of the $15,000 will go toward replacing a control board in the station's main studio, which shorted out roughly two weeks ago. He said the low-grade board was meant more for disc jockey gigs than a radio station.

About 40 local programs were canceled because of the mixing board's failure. WRLR ran automated programming until a staff member loaned his board to the station.

"It's usually not a good sign when you see smoke coming out of your equipment," said WRLR chief engineer Jeff Schmidt. 
Krywko said three bids will be solicited to obtain the best price for a new professional control board. He said the second studio will be an important use of the Appleton Foundation's $15,000 as well.

"It allows the station more flexibility as we grow and there are more shows," Krywko said.

Internal Revenue Service records show the Appleton Foundation had $12.1 million in net assets or fund balances as of July 2008. The organization's most recently reported contributions included $205,000 to Chicago's Goodman Theatre, $500,000 to Planned Parenthood in New York and $100,000 to Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Idaho.

Krywko said the $15,000 from the Appleton Foundation was WRLR's second-largest gift. Goodman authorized the money after learning about WRLR's woes from his friend, Bruce Williams, a station volunteer.

Lakewood Homes provided $30,000 toward a transmitter and initial equipment expenses before WRLR began in September 2005 in a house formerly used as Round Lake Heights' village hall and police station, Krywko said.

With 96 watts of power, WRLR is on 24 hours a day with shows such as Lake County Political Hour and Calie Ramone's and CJ Monster's Radio Blast featuring punk and psychobilly music. WRLR's volunteers come from all walks of life, with its signal mainly covering the Round Lake area and neighboring villages.


Daily Herald

By Daily Herald report

Round Lake's WRLR 98.3 FM will start a new morning drive-time show on Monday, Feb. 13. "Lepek & Company," with producer and host Paul Lepek, will air from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. The program will focus on local talk, news, politics and music. "Paul's show will be a great addition to WRLR's community based programming and fill a big void in our morning hours," said station president Bish Krywko. "Lepek and Company" is expected to provide its Lake County audience a voice on controversial and current news-breaking stories of a local, national and international focus, as well as commentary on social issues and entertainment news. WRLR's move comes in the wake of WKRS 1220-AM in Waukegan converting to an all-Spanish format with ESPN Deportes Radio. WKRS had been known for Lake County-oriented talk shows and sports programming.


Daily Herald

By Bob Susnjara

Constance Collins

Veronica Lake

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 Superintendent Constance Collins launched a communications initiative this week that's more common to big-city school systems.

District 116 now has a weekly show on low-power WRLR 98.3-FM in Round Lake hosted by a rotation of administrators, students and staff from all nine schools. The focus will be primarily on District 116 issues, with some bigger-picture education chatter.

Collins said the one-hour "Destination Excellence — 212° & Rising" will air at 4 p.m. Tuesdays until early June. She and Deputy Superintendent Veronica Lake co-hosted this week's debut program.

Lake and Collins discussed their vision for District 116, which has dramatically improved its finances and has formed a five-year strategic plan.

Collins, who became superintendent in 2010, said the radio show is another move by District 116 to bolster communication to residents.

"I want us to show where we are and where it is we're going," she said.

While uncommon on the suburban level, radio shows have been a staple at Chicago Public Schools and in other big cities.

Now on WBEZ 91.5-FM, CPS' monthly "Schools on the Line" features Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard and a station host addressing issues and taking telephone calls.

Collins said while WRLR is not yet equipped to take phone calls on the air, District 116 has a spot on the front page of its website where questions may be submitted for "Destination Excellence — 212° & Rising." She said the show's name plays off how water boils at 212 degrees, with momentum creating steam to power a locomotive.

She said she sees District 116 as having positive momentum.

WRLR President Bish Krywko complimented District 116 officials for launching the weekly program, which he said will bring benefits to students and the overall community. He said the relationship with District 116 may lead to creation of student internships at the station.

"There are many students who are not tops in athletics or academics at their schools, and those who are lost when seeking an extracurricular activity that resonates with them," Krywko said. "There's that large group in the middle who can find a variety of interests at a community radio station."

District 116 Executive Director of Human Resources Lee Palmer and Jerri Ryan, a labor relations and support consultant, will co-host on WRLR from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Topics are to include education reform and the district's performance in the human resources department.

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