We interrupt this broadcast: Family a priority for departing Craig radio station owners
CRAIG — Almost three decades ago, a couple moved to Craig to build a family business, and now, their desire to be nearer their family will see them leave the community.
Frank and Tammie Hanel purchased KRAI AM and FM radio in May 1989 and moved to Craig.
The Hanels became an integral part of the community, raising two daughters, who, along with their husbands and children, now live in Phoenix, Arizona.
In February, Don Tlapek owner of Steamboat Radio — a group of stations operating out of Steamboat Springs — made an offer to buy KRAI, allowing the Hanels to move to Arizona to be closer to their family.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the sale in mid-March. The closing was expected to occur March 22, and if all goes according to plan, the Hanels will be on their way to Arizona by month’s end.
Frank’s broadcasting career started in 1972, when a friend urged him to attend a career fair, where a radio morning show host and station manager captured his interested in the profession.
“I can’t play or sing. I think this is my own way of expressing my love of music,” he said.
His first paying job in broadcasting was for a station in Bozeman, Montana.
He said listening to certain songs takes him back to each of the radio stations he worked in before buying his own.
The songs he believes will remind him of Craig are the ones that were popular in 1989, such as the song that topped the charts that year — “Another Day in Paradise,” by Phil Collins — and music by Milli Vanilli, Paul Abdul, New Kids on the Block, Bobbie Brown and Janet Jackson.
Tammie worked at the radio station for more than 20 years.
“I did all the paying of the bills and that kind of stuff,” she said.
She also volunteered with the church and became active in the community, helping with Mothers of Preschoolers, chairing the Grand Old West Days organizing committee for about six years, and in recent years, helping care for her grandchildren.
The Hanels received multiple awards for business excellence, and, at one time, their newsroom alone supported three staff and was competing with the Denver Post as Colorado’s second-largest contributor to the Associated Press.
Their business also weathered hard times, and by 2010, they had begun using syndicated services. In recent years, the station has operated with four people — Frank and Tammie, and employees Marci Marumoto and Nolan Sharpe.
“That change did not make me happy. It changed the internal enjoyment,” Frank said. “Financially, if we had to run the way we used to, we wouldn’t be here. Margins are tighter, and everything is tighter.”
However, more people are listening to the radio now than ever before, he said. He added his belief that Craig is poised for an economic comeback.
“This is such a great community. This town has been so good for us, if we could just get back to boom times again. I really hope that comes about. I hope he (Tlapek) makes a killing and thinks he stole the station, because that will be good for Craig,” Frank said.
The Hanels have certainly been good for Craig, according to Marumoto, senior account executive.
“Frank and Tammie have been such an integral part of the community. They have been involved in United Way, Grand Futures, Car Club, Holiday Drive, and they have made such a difference in the community. It’s a big loss to the community as they go,” she said.
Marumoto will continue in her role under new owners. The KRAI Craig office will move to space inside Draper Insurance.
“I hope to carry on part of the Hanels’ legacy and what they have done here,” she said.
Sharpe, who serves as news director, will also continue working for the radio station. He will begin reading the news in April remotely from Fort Collins, where he is relocating to attend Colorado State University and complete a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I’m appreciative to have been given the opportunity straight out of broadcast school and enjoyed diving into the issues of Northwest Colorado,” Sharpe said of his time in Moffat County.
Frank is also considering continuing his on-air work for KRAI remotely, but won’t make that decision for a few months.
Both Hanels are looking forward to new adventures in a new state.
“I love Phoenix. I was down there for five months. I’m going to miss all of the people here, but I feel better in the warmer weather. The grandkids and kids are a bonus,” Tammie said.
When Frank was asked why they decided to leave now, he held up a calendar made by Tammie using family photos.
“Right here,” he said pointing to a picture of Mandy and Daniel Cramblett, with their children, Kadence and Cooper; and Brittney and Tanner Linsacum, with their children Peyton and Cal. “This is what it’s all about.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.