Leighton Broadcasting is one step closer to moving to a new permanent home after the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission recommended approval for a variance and zoning changes to the broadcaster's new property on Randolph Road.
The move will ensure all local Leighton Broadcasting properties, WAVE 104.1, KDLM 93.1, KRCQ 102, Lakes TV3, and Leighton Engage, have a place under one roof. Jeff Leighton, general manager of Leighton Broadcasting, said the new facility will be "state of the art" and give their more than 20 full-time staff members additional space to work.
"We're excited to get everybody under one roof," said Leighton. "The original building we had on Richwood (Road) was built for one radio station, and we have three out there now, so that space has definitely, kind of, served its purpose and we're excited for what the new building is going to hold for us."
Lakes TV3, currently operating on Jackson Avenue in Detroit Lakes, will have a new set in the new building, which could expand its in-studio capability.
"We're going have a nice TV3 set now that we're going to have more room than we've ever had for TV3," he said.
The new facility on Randolph Road also will include a new 100-foot broadcast tower on the west side of the building to relay transmissions to their 350-foot tower, which will remain at their Richwood Road property.
Detroit Lakes Planning Commission members on May 27 recommended approval for a variance that would allow for a 65-foot set back for the new tower instead of the required 1-foot setback for each foot of tower. They also recommended rezoning the property from B-3, auto-oriented business, to I-1, a light industrial district, which would allow for the new tower's construction and the building's remodel.
Their building on Richwood Road has been used for broadcast operations since 1951 when the station was first aired to lakes area residents.
"It's kind of hard leaving there because it's a lot of heritage," said Leighton.
During the meeting, Leighton said he was unsure about the future of their old building, which could be used for storage, or demolished, to alleviate the maintenance costs for the building's upkeep.
He said the move to the new Randolph Road building will be a process since they have to construct the new radio tower, and remodel the building's interior for broadcast, before any staff, or operations, can be relocated.
"The (new) building is just a shell … it's just a matter of framing up some walls for offices and cubicles," said Leighton. "If we got in by the 1st of the year, that'd be great."
Leighton Broadcasting is a second-generation Detroit Lakes business with their founder, Al Leighton, purchasing KDLM AM in 1963 and turning the ever expanding business over to his son Bob Leighton, the company's current chief executive officer. Currently, Leighton Broadcasting owns more than 25 stations across the region from Winona in southeast Minnesota to Grand Forks, N.D.
"We're proud to be a part of this community, and growing with the community, and continuing to thrive," said Leighton.