The "Voice of Wallowa County" is changing. Longtime radio station owners and radio personalities Lee and Carol Lee Perkins announced Dec. 15 that Wallowa Radio KWVR has been sold to Richard, Mary and David Frasch of Chanhassen, Minn. and Enterprise, Ore.
The Frasch's own ranching property in Wallowa County, and recently purchased the radio station building and filed for an application for consent to assign the licenses for Station KWVR and KWVR-FM with the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 12, 2008. The new owners will operate as Wallowa Valley Radio, LLC. David Frasch, son of Richard and Mary, will be manager of the station.
Lee and Carol Lee Perkins will continue to cover "all the fun stuff - the sports" Lee said, and will remain available to help the new owners make the transition in the upcoming year.
"We're not going anywhere," Lee said. "Wallowa County is our home - we've been here 25 years, we're building a new home, we're staying."
Although the Perkins are pleased to have sold the station to a family with Wallowa County roots, they admitted to having "mixed feelings" about leaving radio. The station, which they have owned for a quarter century, is the couple's "life's work" Carol Lee said. "It's hard for me to sit at my desk, here, and realize I don't own this building," she said. "It will be nice to retire for the first couple of months but then I'll have to find a new job. I can't imagine that after a couple of years being away from the radio Lee will be happy, either."
Lee has been in radio since 1948 and taught radio at the L.H. Bates Voc-Tech Institute in Tacoma. His local awards include the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association Sports Media Award in 2001-2002 and the Oregon Association Broadcaster of the Year in 2003. Carol Lee, who was former secretary to the Speaker of the House and taught law and legal procedures at the Voc-Tech Institute, came to radio through Lee. She caught on fast and just two years after the couple purchased the station, she along with Molly Murrill of Enterprise, won a National Commendation Award presented by American Women in Radio and Television, Inc. for their program "Women of Achievement in the Wallowa Country."
The Perkins claim to have come to Wallowa by "accident." They arrived, yeah, those many years ago, when a friend who was a radio station broker told them they had to go see a "little jewel box" of a radio station in Enterprise before they departed on a world tour aboard their 42-foot Yankee Clipper ketch, "Blackjack," at that time moored in Tacoma.
Both were recently retired from the Voc-Tech and were looking for a new adventure.
"My response at the time was, 'where the heck is Enterprise, Oregon,'" Lee recalled.
They soon found out where Enterprise was and what their next adventure would be. They also claim to have fallen instantly in love with Wallowa County and soon in love with the people of the county as well. Now, at 76, they are "sort of" ready to retire and let a new family, also reportedly in love with the county, carry on their legacy.