Lee Davis

How well do wcub(am)'s listeners know their hometown Wisconsin station? So well that there's no need to advertise where station owner Lee Davis can be found every weekday, hosting his four-hour Breakfast Club show.

While Manitowoc, Wis., home to wcub and sister station WLTU(FM), has an estimated population of just 82,726 and thus enjoys the community networks for which small towns are famous, it lacks the retail base of a larger city. Wcub and wltu wouldn't be doing as well financially if they weren't so close to several larger markets: Advertisers from Green Bay, Sheboygan and Appleton/Oshkosh, Wis., buy spots on the stations to lure shoppers they know have to leave Manitowoc.

"They don't sell [many products] down here, but we do sell some [spots] up there," Davis says. "A lot of our audience shops out of town."

Because of that advertising base, broadcasters in the area on Lake Michigan "have done very well" financially, Davis says. However, radio groups apparently haven't noticed that. Consolidation has "happened all around us" but left this market alone. He estimates that it will take five to six years for consolidation to trickle down to smaller markets like his.

Meanwhile, it has arrived in the Green Bay market, which includes Manitowoc in its ADI, or Area of Dominant Influence. Two of the market's top 10 stations are owned by radio giant Cumulus Media. Four more are controlled by 17-station group Midwest Communications Inc. Another three are owned by a small area group of seven stations. (Neither wcub or wltu makes the Green Bay ratings list, which is compiled by Arbitron.)

Davis settled in Manitowoc after a career at TV and other radio stations, including WMAQ(AM) Chicago, where he was general manager. "Being in a small market is a great way of life," he says. "We just go along with things and have a good time."

The next time you're in Manitowoc, just ask where to join the Breakfast Club. The 6 to 10 a.m. show alternates between the two local McDonald's every six months. Residents always seem to know which "community listening post" is currently playing host, Davis says.