GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Many people go to church for inspiration.
This is a story about a show that was inspired by going to church.
And it’s because the pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Brillion is in his second calling.
Last century, he was a disc jockey in Algoma at a radio station that he owned. The call letters were WOMA.
Today, his parishioners include showman Frank Hermans, who writes musicals with comedy for his troupe based in Green Bay.
Most of Frank Hermans and co-writer Pat Hibbard’s shows are steeped in fractured history.
This time, their “WOMA Algoma, You’ve Struck Gold” has all kinds of kernels of truth.
In the show, Frank Hermans portrays his pastor, Dale Eggert, when Dale Eggert was a DJ at the station and its owner.
The singers of Let Me Be Frank Productions portray Dale Eggert’s staff as the station is about to be sold three years later.
The setup is an excuse to sing ’60s and ’70s hits that were heard on WOMA.
Woven through are stories about the staff and situations that bend reality quite a bit.
The almost-real show is filled with the usual Let Me Be Frank Productions displays of dynamic singing laced with a mixed bag of jokes.
For laughs, the station’s newsman creates havoc with journalism.
Pop hit follows pop hit from a band that can play and singers who can sing.
Among special moments is a sweet duet of “The Closer I Get to You” between Frank Hermans and his wife, Amy Riemer.
An amazing thing happened on opening night April 1 when Dale Eggert of today and his former employees/colleagues posed on stage with their Let Me Be Frank Productions counterparts.
My review of “WOMA Algoma, You’ve Struck Gold” on another night is here: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large/warren-gerds-review-woma-algoma-youve-struck-gold/.
Performances are continuing. The next one is in Manitowoc at Capitol Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m. April 13. Info: cccshows.org. More performances are at Green Bay’s Meyer Theatre at 7:30 p.m. April 14-16; 1 and 7:30 p.m. April 21; 7:30 p.m. April 22; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. April 23. Info: meyertheatre.org.
There is a bit more behind the story on stage.
When I wrote about the media for the Green Bay Press-Gazette daily newspaper, I interviewed Dale Eggert a week prior to WOMA arriving on the air. That was November 1986.
The station was part of an effort by the Federal Communications Commission to put more stations on the air to serve small communities.
Because of many other signals on the air, Dale Eggert, the station’s president and general manager, said he was aiming for a niche: “We will be putting a lot of emphasis on coverage of Kewaunee County and southern Door County,” he said. “We will also be doing a lot of play-by-play in sports covering the same areas.”
Tom Wagner (who is depicted in the show), formerly of WDOR in Sturgeon Bay, came aboard as program and sports director along with doing play-by-play.
The station’s slogan would be “you’ve struck gold,” Dale Eggert said.
In the interview, he also described the FCC process. The commissioned determined 685 communities qualified for a radio frequency, and the order of allocation happened by lottery. Dale Eggert said, “As far as we can tell, we’re the first FCC grant out of those entire 685 cities to get off the ground.”
In 1989, WOMA was purchased by Ray Wheeler, a former WLUK-TV anchorman who went into radio station ownership. That reference is in the show. Not in the show is this:
After another change of hands in 1992 to Roger Utnehmer, another multiple radio-station owner in the region, the WOMA call letters were changed to WBDK, still in existence.