Wisconsin radio magnate Duey ‘Duke’ Wright dies age 83
Duey “Duke” Wright, a radio mogul who built Midwest Communications into a multistate operation, has died. He was 83.
Wright passed away on Dec. 21, according to an obituary from Lyndahl Funeral Home and Cremation Services posted on the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s website.
As a child, Wright would take apart radios and put them back together, and later constructed a radio station that could be heard a few miles away, Midwest Communications’ website says.
His parents owned a music store, and Wright played several instruments, including piano, bass, and accordion. At age 15, he hosted a weekly music show on WSAU-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin, according to the obituary.
His parents bought a local Wausau radio station in 1958 for $54,000, renaming it WRIG. Wright worked as the station’s general manager, after serving in the National Guard and earning a business degree from the University of Wisconsin.
In the decades that followed, Wright took over Midwest Communications and expanded its operations across nine states — from North Dakota to Tennessee — and more than 80 radio stations.
Wright met his wife Pegge at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in 1972, and they moved to Green Bay in 1976 to grow their family and business, the obituary said. Midwest Communications is still family-owned.
Before his death, Wright was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame for “running a sound business, serving the communities of his radio stations and having fun every step of the way,” according to a video on the Wisconsin Broadcasting Museum’s website.
Wright is survived by Pegge, their four children and 10 grandchildren, according to the obituary.
“What do I hope people say about me? That I was nice. That’s it. Nothing else,” Wright said in the Hall of Fame video.
Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15