One of Shawano’s voices gets love from WBA

Doug Erdman to become Local Broadcasting Legend to commemorate 38 years on the airwaves
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Anyone who turns on the radio in the morning has a pretty good chance of hearing Doug Erdman interviewing politicians, representatives of nonprofit organizations or even rangers with the Department of Natural Resources, and that’s in between announcing what songs are coming up next on the radio.

Anyone who has lived in the Shawano area for a long time comes to expect Erdman’s voice to waft into their homes, vehicles and workplaces, as he has been a key voice for WTCH for 34 years.

His longevity and his dedication to the community where he lives has paid off, as he is one of four broadcasters in Wisconsin to be named Local Broadcast Legends in 2023 by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Erdman and the other award winners will receive their laurels during the keynote luncheon at the 2023 WBA Summer Conference on June 15 at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.

The Local Broadcast Legends award was created in 2015 at the behest of Bruce Grassman, who owns WTCH. Erdman said he’s been working toward earning the achievement for about five years but did not expect the honor to be bestowed so soon.

“I was down in the basement walking the treadmill when I found out,” Erdman said. “I was very surprised. It came as quite a shock.”

Erdman’s main duties at WTCH, which start at 4 a.m., are to keep the music playing weekday mornings and to be the host of the radio station’s Breakfast Club, where he interviews public officials and other interesting people in-depth about the issues of the day. He noted that he doesn’t follow the lead of some shock jocks and go “out of line” when he questions guests on the Breakfast Club because he believes it’s better to gain the trust of the people he’s interviewing, and the truth will come out in its own time.

“The key part is interviewing the schools and community members,” Erdman said. “It makes me feel like a part of the community to interview these people. They could be anywhere from Shawano to Pulaski to Clintonville or wherever. It was getting to know people and feeling like a part of them. That’s how I’ve always dealt with my news.”

Erdman is also responsible for crafting some of the commercials and making sure that other programming proceeds smoothly.

The roots of the love of radio can be traced back to Erdman’s childhood days in Marinette.

“I used to hang around a radio station in downtown Marinette,” he said. “My dad, who was a police officer for the city of Marinette, became friends with the station owner, and he let me hang out there to see what it was about. That’s what started my love for radio.”

Erdman’s professional start in radio took place in Richland Center after going to college in Minneapolis. Four years later, he made the move to Shawano.

“I don’t like to sweat, so I knew factory work wasn’t going to do it,” Erdman said as he explained why he wanted a life in broadcasting. “It’s my love of music. I love music, and I love talking about community events on the radio. I love being a part of the community, basically making new friends and finding new faces.”

Over the years, Erdman has worn many different hats at WTCH, including more than a decade as its news director. Among some of his favorite activities during that time were covering school board meetings and meeting community members at various events. He also enjoyed interviewing some of the area’s many farmers.

“I loved it,” Erdman said. “My favorite was covering the court cases. I loved the law angle, and I used to kind of guess what was going to happen to see if I was right. A lot of times, I was, and after a while, you get to know a bit of the law. I enjoyed that part of it.”

Radio broadcasting has changed quite a bit in the four decades Erdman has been on the airwaves.

“We used to have to record on tape back in the day. We used to have to splice tape,” Erdman said. “Now, it’s all in digital, and the signals, to me, seem like they’re a lot better.”

Erdman’s work is not contained within the walls of Results Broadcasting, which operates a number of radio stations, including WTCH. When he’s not working the board, he volunteers as a member of the Shawano Police and Fire Commission, and he’s active with the Shawano Optimists.

“I became a member (of the commission) almost 15 years ago,” Erdman said. “I was brought on to give my view because my father was a police officer, and I had an interest in law enforcement.”

Erdman’s backing of the blue extends to the Optimists, as well, as the organization holds a week to commemorate law enforcement.

“I always try to help out with that because of law enforcement respect,” he said.

Erdman’s eligible for retirement benefits in four years, but he’s not looking at walking away from WTCH anytime soon.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I look at it and ask, ‘Why retire? If I can still do the job, why retire?’”