Win a prize on WJBC? Pick up your prize at the WJBC studios at 236 Greenwood Ave. in Bloomington. Prize pickup hours are M-F 8am-5pm
Coming from a distance? Call ahead to make sure your prize is ready for pickup:
May, 1925: Lee Stremlau rounds up a few friends and launches WJBC from Wayne Hummer’s Furniture Store in LaSalle. Herbert Hoover (who was then the U.S. Secretary of Commerce) assigns the call letters WJBC. Stremlau, determined to help listeners remember them, adopts as the slogan for his Radio Shop, “Where Jazz Becomes Classic.”
1934: Bloomington-Normal gets its first licensed station when WJBC moves to town. Following the Stock Market crash, Stremlau’s Radio Shop had gone out of business, and the Hummer Furniture store was facing financial challenges. Hummer decided to move the station to Normal . The tower went up near the University Farm, while studios were established at ISNU and at Illinois Wesleyan. The station was on the air from 9:00 am till 12:30 pm and again from 3:00 to 7:30 pm daily, featuring “news 8 times daily, weather forecasts twice daily, free announcements of farm sales, and Western Union time every hour on the hour.”
1936: Arthur and Dorothy McGregor purchase WJBC and institute the “full service” attitude that continues to serve the McLean County community today.
1939: The FCC grants WJBC full-time operation, and the station begins broadcasting from 6am to 11pm daily.
1941: WJBC expands again and moves to spacious studios on the third floor of the Castle Theatre building on East Washington in Bloomington .
1946: WJBC is purchased by the Pantagraph.
1949: The current tower is erected along Route 66. At the time, the 400-foot height was said to be a “county landmark, visible for miles.”
1959: WJBC engineers show the “endless loop tape cartridge at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, revolutionizing radio. This cartridge allowed the “Top 40” concept of fast-paced music, commercials, and jingles to be played with push-button speed.
1970: WJBC builds our current studios around our standing transmitter building along Greenwood Avenue . When Christmas comes, WJBC staffers decide to spruce up the tree in the lobby by wrapping some gifts to go under it, and then deliver them just before the holiday to homes where they were needed. Somebody suggests we call our little project the WJBC Brotherhood Tree.
1980′s and 1990′s: As the radio industry moves toward less regulation, more automation, smaller staffs and much less local coverage, WJBC increases it’s local sports coverage by adding significant play-by-play of Illinois State women’s volleyball and basketball and high school girls sports, expanding high school football coverage and maintaining award winning IWU and ISU football and men’s basketball coverage. Farm Director Art Sechrest was voted America’s top Farm Broadcaster, Religion Editor Gene Lyle earned the “Silver Angel” Award three times, and Don Munson was honored with the Marconi Award as America’s Radio Personality of the Year.
1996: WJBC.com debuts.
2000: WJBC wins the highly prestigious National Association of Broadcasters Crystal Radio Award for Community Service.
2001: Don Munson retires after more than 35 years of waking up central Illinois on WJBC.
2001: WJBC and sister stations band together in the aftermath of 9-11 to raise more than $870,000 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. WJBC’s staff joined forces with those of sister stations WBNQ and B104 to inform listeners of the latest on the attacks and Central Illinois’ reaction to the news.
2002: WJBC and sister stations join to commemorate the one-year anniversary of 9-11, and with the help of 1,352 listeners, for a human flag on the field of Illinois State University . The WJBC newsroom is recognized with a National Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast for a newscast anchored by R.C. McBride and featuring live reporting by Beth Whisman and Will Koch.
2003: In addition to making WJBC’s audio streaming available on WJBC.com, the station begins offering Internet-only play-by-play events. This eventually leads to the station being able to broadcast the entire schedule of ISU men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and football as well as IWU men’s basketball and football.
2004: WJBC joins large market stations such as Chicago ’s WGN and Denver ’s KOA as one of five finalists in the 2004 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for the top News-Talk station of the year. WJBC releases “80 Years of WJBC” to commemorate the station’s 80th anniversary.
2005: WJBC brings home the hardware, winning the 2005 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award as the best small market station in the nation, and the NAB’s Crystal Radio Award for Community Service. The station is also a finalist for the Marconi Award for the top News-Talk station in the nation.
2007: WJBC becomes the first AM radio station in downstate Illinois to broadcast in HD.
2008: WJBC continues to be nationally recognized as being among the best in the field, winning another NAB Crystal Award for Community Service (the third since 2000) and another Regional Edward R. Murrow Overall Excellence Award (making four in the past five years). WJBC was named a finalist for the Marconi Award as the best News-Talk station in the country, along with KFI-AM (Los Angeles), KKOB (Albuquerque, NM), WBEN (Buffalo, NY) and WTMJ (Milwaukee). WJBC broadcasts live from the historic Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
2009: More recognition for WJBC – a second Marconi as National Radio Station of the Year and two National Edward R. Murrow awards, one for Overall Excellence and another for Best Documentary for History Through Our Eyes: The Election of Barack Obama (written by Steve Fast and produced by Dara Brockmeyer).
For some great historic audio, check out our podcast page.