Fans of sports radio are feeling bereft about what happened to Bill Michaels. After more than two decades on air, Bill is taking “a brief break from the airwaves” as he leaves WSSP at Milwaukee, Wis. — otherwise known as 1250 AM The Fan — and announces the end of The Bill Michaels Show.
After more than a decade at Milwaukee’s WTMJ, Bill joined WSSP in 2011 when he started The Bill Michaels Show as he built a self-syndicated radio show network, according to OnMilwaukee.
Joe Zenzola, executive producer at WSSP, read Bill’s farewell letter to fans at the end of the show’s final episode on Friday, Jan. 8.
Bill Michaels cited unspecified “stresses” in his letter to listeners.
“There comes a time in your time when some stresses begin to drag you down,” Bill said in the letter that Joe shared on Friday. “In doing so, your effort and attention is pulled in numerous directions, leaving you with the inability to focus on your sole task. At this time, I’m going to take a brief break from the airwaves.”
He went on: “I have nothing but respect and admiration for [station owner] Entercom as a company, and I thank them for helping me build a dream. I can’t thank my coworkers and friends enough for their support, energy, effort and professionalism. You are all the best. I love radio and its ability to touch so many people informatively as well as passionately. That drives me every day and will continue to run deep in my soul.”
At the end of his letter, Bill said he’s looking forward to a time of personal growth. “I believe that if you trim back the dead branches, ultimately, the tree grows stronger,” he wrote. “I hope to do just that.”
Joe hailed Bill’s “vision” in creating a statewide sports network.
Before announcing that The Bill Michaels Show would be replaced by The Big Show starting on Monday, Jan. 11 — a show hosted by Steve "Sparky" Fifer and former Green Bay Packers players LeRoy Butler and Gary Ellerson — Joe praised Bill’s legacy.
“Believe me, when the news came, it was definitely a shock. Nobody saw this coming,” he said. “But I gotta say … You know, I remember when Bill took over this, and this really was his vision. He wanted to create a statewide sports network. Because, honestly, it’s never been done. We have syndicated networks all over the country but never a localized product. And that was Bill’s dream when he came over to Entercom. So, he put this thing together.”
He continued: “At the very beginning, when The Bill Michaels Show launched, we only had a couple of affiliates, and they were familiar with Bill. They were familiar with his brand on the Packers Radio Network. … And we’ve gone from just a couple of affiliates here, to now, nine years later, we have 16. … It’s hard for a radio show to go on for as long as it has, and nine years has been a really good run. And believe me, I would love to go even longer, but this was Bill’s decision, and you have to respect that.”