WGRB
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WGRB
WGRB
WGRB Inspiration1390AM logo.png
CityChicago, Illinois
Broadcast areaChicago market
Frequency1390 kHz (HD Radio)
BrandingInspiration 1390
SloganMusic of Power and Praise
Programming
FormatGospel
Ownership
OwneriHeartMedia, Inc.
(AMFM Broadcasting Licenses, LLC)
WCHI-FM, WGCI-FM, WKSC-FM, WLIT-FM, WVAZ, WVON
History
First air date
October 13, 1923[1]
Former call signs
  • WGCI (1983–2004)[2]
  • WVON (1975–1983)[3]
  • WNUS (c. 1965–1975)[3]
  • WYNR (1962–1965)[3]
  • WGES (1925–1962)[3][4]
  • WTAY (1923–1925)[1]
Call sign meaning
Gospel Radio Blessings
Technical information
ClassB
Power5,000 Watts
Links
WebcastListen live (via iHeartRadio)
Websiteinspiration1390.iheart.com

WGRB, 1390 AM, is a radio station in Chicago owned by iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications until September 2014). It airs a gospel music format targeted to Chicago's African-American religious community. On Sundays, the station broadcasts the services of several African-American churches in the area. WGRB has studios located at the Illinois Center complex on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago, and it broadcasts from a transmitter based near 87th and Kedzie in the city's southwest side.

History

Beginnings in Oak Park & Chicago

The station began broadcasting on October 13, 1923 as WTAY in Oak Park, Illinois.[1] It originally operated on 1330 kHz running 15 watts, and broadcasting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings.[1] It was owned by a community newspaper called Oak Leaves.[1][5] On February 15, 1924, the station began broadcasting from the Oak Park Arms Hotel.[5][6] Its frequency was changed to 1060 kHz and its power was increased to 500 watts.[1] On April 6, 1925, Coyne Electrical School purchased the station and changed its call sign to WGES, standing for Coyne's slogan, "World's Greatest Electrical School."[1]Ray Kroc played piano live on the air at WGES's studios in the Oak Park Arms.[7][8]

WGES moves to the West Side

In the late 1920s, the station was purchased by J. Louis Guyon and moved to the Guyon Hotel on the West Side of Chicago.[1] The station aired big band music from the nearby Guyon's Paradise Ballroom.[9] It also broadcast African-American and foreign-language programming.[1] In 1927, the station's frequency was changed from 940 kHz to 1210 kHz, and was changed to 1360 kHz the following year.[10]

WGRB's transmitter site at 86th & Kedzie

Gene T. Dyer purchased interest in the station in 1930, and in 1937 its studios were moved to 2400 W. Madison Street, where co-owned WSBC was located.[5][10] In March 1941, WGES moved to 1390 kHz as a result of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement and the following year its power was increased from 500 watts to 5,000 watts, moving its transmitter location from the roof of the Guyon Hotel to 86th and Kedzie in Chicago.[10] In 1944 the FCC ruled that radio station owners could only own one AM and FM station per market.[11] Gene Dyer sold WGES to his brother, Dr. John Dyer and associates.[12] WGES's studios were moved from 2400 West Madison to 2708 West Washington Boulevard.[10]

In 1945, Al Benson began hosting a Sunday evening program on WGES, using his real name Arthur Leaner.[13] The program featured a sermon delivered by Leaner, a pastor, and gospel music.[13] After the station told Leaner he could not sell advertising on his religious program, he began hosting a secular show as "Al Benson", playing blues, jazz, and R&B.[13][14][15] Over the years, more hours of African-American programming were added, with the addition of disk jockeys Richard Stamz,[16] Ric Riccardo,[17] Sam Evans,[16]Herb Kent,[18][19] Franklyn McCarthy,[17] and Sid McCoy.[20] WGES's foreign language programming was cut back to only four hours a day.

The McLendon years

WYNR

WGRB's transmitter building

In 1962, the station was sold to Gordon McLendon for $1 million, plus an additional $1 million for a non-compete agreement.[21] McLendon eliminated all foreign language programming in favor of an all-black format.[22] There were complaints to the United States Federal Communications Commission that the station had eliminated foreign-language programming.[22] The FCC held a hearing to investigate the complaints at which some politicians testified.[23][24][25][26]

The callsign changed to WYNR on September 1, 1962.[27][10] The station was branded "Winner".[1] Announcers included Big John Evans, Dick Kemp (The Wild Child), Luckey Cordell, Bruce Brown, Floyd Brown,[28][29] and Yvonne Daniels.[30] In 1963, the station's studios were moved to its transmitter site at 86th and Kedzie.[10]

WNUS

On September 3, 1964, the station adopted an all-news format with the new call letters WNUS.[31][32] In 1965, McLendon bought WFMQ (107.5 FM), changed its call sign to WNUS-FM and began to simulcast the all news format on the FM frequency.[33][34] In 1968, the station adopted a beautiful music format.[35] In 1967, the station's studios were moved to Chicago's River North neighborhood.[10]

WVON takes over 1390

In 1975, Globetrotter Communications, owners of soul music station WVON, purchased WNUS-AM-FM from McLendon for $3,550,000, and moved WVON from its 1,000-watt signal on 1450 kHz to the 5,000-watt facility on 1390 kHz that had been occupied by WNUS.[36] WVON retained the studios it had used on 1450 in South Lawndale.[10] WNUS-FM changed to a disco format later that year, with a change of call letters to WGCI-FM.[37][38] In 1977, Combined Communications Corporation purchased Globetrotter Communications, and the following year Combined Communications merged with Gannett Co.[39][40]

As WGCI, & the switch to WGRB

On October 3, 1983, the station's call sign was changed to WGCI.[41] The station aired an urban adult contemporary format.[42][43][44] Yvonne Daniels hosted mornings.[42] By 1986, the station was airing an urban contemporary format as part of a simulcast with 107.5 WGCI-FM.[45][46] On January 16, 1989, the station debuted an African-American-oriented talk format.[47] The talk format was dropped September 10, 1990, and it adopted an urban oldies format branded "Dusty Radio".[47][48][49]

The format changed to gospel music on October 5, 1998 under Chancellor Media ownership.[50][48] Its call letters were changed to WGRB on June 1, 2004 to differentiate it from its sister FM station.[41]

HD programming

WGRB is licensed to broadcast a hybrid[51] signal (analog plus digital) on 1390 AM HD 1.[52]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ghrist, John R. (1996). Valley Voices: A Radio History. Crossroads Communications. pp. 351-353.
  2. ^ Fybush, Scott (2006-11-03). "WGRB 1390/WVON 1690, Chicago, Illinois". Tower Site of the Week. Rochester, New York. Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b c d "Chicago Metro Radio List — Past & Present". 1999-06-12. p. 3.
  4. ^ "Chicago Metro Radio List — Past & Present". 1999-06-12. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b c "AM Histories", Broadcasting -- Telecasting. A Continuing Study of Major Radio Markets: Study No. 7: Chicago. October 25, 1948. p. 18. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "Radio Department", Oak Leaves. February 16, 1924. p. 32. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Napoli, Lisa. "Exploring Ray Kroc's Chicago", Curbed. January 18, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Kroc, Ray (2016). Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's. St. Martin's Press. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "Paradise Ballroom". Jazz Age Chicago. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h History Cards for WGRB, fcc.gov. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  11. ^ "FCC Infers Rigid Enforcement by Denying Duopoly Petitions", Broadcasting. May 22, 1944. pp. 12, 57. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "WAIT-WGES Swap Approved by FCC", Broadcasting. December 18, 1944. p. 70. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Barlow, William (1999). Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio. Temple University Press. p. 98. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "Al Benson", The Blues Foundation. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Reich, Howard. "We Ain't Got That Swing", Chicago Tribune. February 25, 2001. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Pruter, Robert (1992). Chicago Soul. University of Illinois Press. p. 12. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  17. ^ a b "New Chess R.&B. 'Baby' Shows Face in Chicago", Billboard. April 13, 1963. p. 24. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  18. ^ Hanson, Karen (2007). Today's Chicago Blues. Lake Claremont Press. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "Herb Kent's Biography", The History Makers. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  20. ^ "A Winner Awarded", Jet. March 2, 1961. p. 62. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  21. ^ "Ownership changes", Broadcasting. June 18, 1962. p. 80. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "New WGES Format Draws Hot Words", Broadcasting. September 3, 1962. p. 48. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  23. ^ "FCC will hear complaints on station WYNR". Chicago Tribune. January 24, 1963. Retrieved 2010. Federal Communications Commission in Washington said yesterday that it will hold hearings in Chicago at an unannounced date on complaints of program ...
  24. ^ "N. A. A. C. P. Aid Defends WYNR Radio Policies. Fuqua Holds Programs Serve All". Chicago Tribune. April 20, 1963. p. A9. Retrieved 2010. A Chicago official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People testified yesterday that radio station WYNR is serving a worthy purpose ...
  25. ^ "Rep. Pucinski, Berry Testify at WYNR Quiz. Issue Is Dropping of Foreign Program". Chicago Tribune. April 18, 1963. p. W19. Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "FCC to Investigate Complaints on WYNR". Chicago Tribune. April 7, 1963. p. A4. Retrieved 2010. FCC to Investigate. Complaints on. Hearing on complaints of elimination of foreign language programs by station will be held in the United States courthouse ...
  27. ^ "PD Presents Wild Child Dick Kemp WYNR Chicago 1962". Reel Top 40 Radio Repository. Sacramento, California: ReelRadio, Inc. Volume I, Issue 14 of Programmer's Digest, dated February 12, 1973 ... According to the narrator, WYNR was a McLendon (KLIF) station, switching from call letters WGES on September 1, 1962.
  28. ^ "Floyd Brown", WGN. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  29. ^ Harder, Chuck. "The Death of Radio", Radio & Television Business Report. August 12, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  30. ^ "Yvonne Daniels, Radio Hall of Fame". Radio Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ "McLendon all news at Chicago station", Broadcasting. August 24, 1964. p. 68. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  32. ^ "WYNR Goes to All-News", Billboard. August 29, 1964. pp. 3, 18. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  33. ^ History Cards for WGCI-FM, fcc.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  34. ^ "Demand is Heavy For FM Outlets", Billboard. December 5, 1964. p. 28. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  35. ^ "In and out", Broadcasting. February 26, 1968. p. 5. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  36. ^ "CCI heads toward top among groups", Broadcasting. March 10, 1975. p. 20. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  37. ^ Duston, Anne. "Midwest Becomes Hotbed Of Disco Activity", Billboard. November 1, 1975. p. D-28. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  38. ^ "Chi WGCI Music Switch", Billboard. June 26, 1976. p. 27. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  39. ^ "Soul Sauce", Billboard. May 14, 1977. p. 42. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  40. ^ Jones, William H. "Gannett Plans to Buy Combined Communications", The Washington Post. May 9, 1978. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  41. ^ a b Call Sign History, fcc.gov. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  42. ^ a b Chicago Radio Guide, Vol. 1, Issue 1. May 1985. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  43. ^ Broadcasting/Cablecasting Yearbook 1985, Broadcasting/Cablecasting, 1985. p. B-79. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  44. ^ Zorn, Eric. "WGCI Alphabet Change Doesn't Soup Up Listener Ratings", Chicago Tribune. February 4, 1985.
  45. ^ Freeman, Kim. "Urbans Take to the Streets For Better Books", Billboard. June 23, 1986. pp. 1, 101. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  46. ^ Daley, Steve. "Morning Radio Girds for Battle", Chicago Tribune. September 23, 1986. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  47. ^ a b Warren, James. "WGCI Ends Black-Talk Radio Format", Chicago Tribune. September 11, 1990. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  48. ^ a b Kirk, Jim. "WGCI-AM Decides to Sweep Away the Dusties", Chicago Tribune. September 29, 1998. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  49. ^ Borzillo, Carrie. "Promotions and Marketing", Billboard. May 21, 1994. p. 71. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  50. ^ Feder, Robert (September 29, 1998). "WGCI-AM is switching from dusties to gospel". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  51. ^ http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/iboc-digital-radio-broadcasting-am-and-fm-radio-broadcast-stations
  52. ^ http://www.hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=4 HD Radio Guide for Chicago

External links


Coordinates: 41°44?13?N 87°42?00?W / 41.73694°N 87.70000°W / 41.73694; -87.70000


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