Ely radio station gets another extension


Ely’s longtime radio station – its future on hold for months – will operate until the end of November while its owner continues to search for a buyer.

WELY End of the Road Radio was due to close on June 1 after its owner, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, said it was losing money in the business. But community interest in a sale led to a postponement of the closure while the band explored options.

“While the first three months gave us some time to begin the sales process, it just wasn’t enough,” Group CEO Mayan Beltran said in a press release. “We hope this new window will give us time to sell it now that all the details are finalized.”

The entire operation is for sale: the downtown Ely Chapman Street station building and its FCC license, as well as the radio tower and the property it sits on. The group declined to disclose the sale price due to “many parties” still expressing interest.

Shane Drift, a member of the Bois Forte Tribal Council, said no further extensions would be granted.

“If we don’t sell it, we just have to shut it down,” Drift said in the statement.

WELY began broadcasting in 1954. Financial problems forced a closure in 1987, when CBS reporter Charles Kuralt, known for his “On the Road” program, purchased the station in 1995. He operated it until upon his death in 1997. Bois Forte purchased WELY in 2005.

In addition to music and emergency messages, WELY is the local source for coverage of Minnesota Twins baseball and Vikings football, regional news and area high school sports. Its reach extends through the upper arrowhead.

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