Former WBCK Owner Bob Liggett Passes Away
A former owner of WBCK and other Battle Creek radio stations, Bob Liggett, has passed away. The Michigan-based entrepreneur died Friday July 12th at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Liggett owned four stations in Battle Creek, starting with purchases of AM930 WBCK and FM 95.3 WMKG in 1987. He changed 95.3 to WMJC, Magic 95, and later added signals at 1400 AM and 104.9 FM. In 1990, WMJC changed to top 40 WBXX, B-95.
Bob Liggett once told Battle Creek Enquirer writer Jim Dean that his interest in radio began at a young age, as his father was a writer for the Detroit-based “Lone Ranger” radio show. When he was just 14, he worked his way through high school and college with jobs for Detroit stations WJR, WXYZ, and WJBK. He also was the public address announcer for the Detroit Red Wings from 1963 to 1971 at Olympia Stadium.
But rather than stay in the on-air side of things, he earned a law degree in 1969 from Wayne State University and immediately founded Liggett Broadcast Group in 1970. His first station was WFMK in Lansing. In 1987, he bought 95.3 WMKG-FM from Pop Price, and then bought WBCK AM 930 from Nat Sibbold. Liggett eventually owned 29 stations in five states. That wasn’t very common in the 70’s and 80’s, as the federal government had strict caps on how many stations an owner could have in any one community. But Liggett, always a shrewd business person, could see that the winds of change would de-regulate the industry and loosen the ownership caps. WELL-AM 1400, WALM and WELL-FM 104.9 had all “gone dark” in 1992. Liggett sent his friend and neighbor Donald Fox to the bankruptcy auction to buy the stations for him. The next year, when the ownership caps were loosened, Fox officially sold the stations to Liggett, who spun off the WALM Albion and put country music on WELL-AM and FM. Liggett sold the Battle Creek stations to Patterson Broadcasting in 1996. In 2000, he sold Liggett Broadcast Group to Citadel Communications, and bought Big Boy Restaurants. He was the CEO of the chain for 18 years, and still owned five radio stations in the Port Huron area. He was honored with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 25 from 3-8 p.m. at A. H. Peters Funeral Home at 20707 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods. The funeral service will be on Friday, July 26, at 11 a.m. at the Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church at 211 Moross Road in Grosse Pointe Farms.