Personal

Goodbye to 1070 AM in Indianapolis

For many years, one of the most popular radio stations in central Indiana broadcast over 1070 AM. WIBC was what used to be called a “full service” station, playing “middle of the road” music with big personality disk jockeys and news every hour on the hour. In central Indiana, everybody listened to WIBC at least once in a while. It was a hugely popular radio station for decades and decades.

Full service died in about 1993 on WIBC, when the station debuted a news-talk format. AM radio was changing radically in these days, as FM had long since come to dominate in listenership. As 2007 drew to a close, WIBC abandoned its historic 1070 AM frequency and switched to FM at 93.1, where it still broadcasts. On FM, WIBC has continued to do very well and remains a top-rated station, although of a much smaller listenership as radio itself has become less relevant.

WIBC’s parent company aired a sports-talk format on 1070, and later added two low-power FM signals at 93.5 and 107.5 to carry that programming.

A sad commentary on the value of AM radio today, but in recent years the land that 1070’s towers sat on became more valuable than the station itself. The owners sold the land and dismantled the towers, with no set plans to continue operating the station on 1070. Here are the last couple minutes of 1070, once a powerhouse radio station in central Indiana. 1070 in Indiana breathed its last at the end of August 2.

Even though 1070 carried a radio station with call letters WFNI in its final years, someone at 1070 saluted WIBC’s heritage by ending with WIBC’s top-of-the-hour ID used from the 1970s through the 2000s. Most people from central Indiana who are older than about 30 remember the Radio Indiana ID. It always led right to WIBC News.

Here’s a taste of what WIBC once was. This is an aircheck from 1982 of disk jockey Orly Knutson. Listen to the slight reverb behind Orly’s voice; it was part of WIBC’s signature sound. This aircheck includes the Radio Indiana ID and part of a newscast, and at about the 6 minute mark, one of WIBC’s well-known long jingles. But more than anything else, hear how WIBC was your friend and companion as you went about your day. Man, I miss radio like that.

Speaking of long jingles, here are a few more. These two videos are courtesy my friend John, a radio historian and a fellow I shared the airwaves with, as our shifts on WZZQ in Terre Haute were usually next to each other.

Goodbye, 1070!

Standard

32 thoughts on “Goodbye to 1070 AM in Indianapolis

  1. Coming from Fort Wayne, home to the 50,000 watt clear channel behemoth that was WOWO, WIBC always seemed like pretty weak sauce for a capital city radio station. But with their location about halfway between WOWO and the real monster, 100,000 watt WLW in Cincinnati, I guess that lack of electrical firepower could not be helped.

    The heyday of AM radio for anything beyond news and talk was gone by the time I got here, so I never got to experience them at the top of their game. But I have to say that Fred Heckman was the kind of old-school news man I would give just about anything to have around today.

    • Fort Wayne will forever be incredibly fortunate to have landed a clear channel, and to have gotten Westinghouse to own the station. Indianapolis didn’t get so lucky. 1070 had to protect a west coast 1070 and so had to go directional at night.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    OMG, the “It’s a Shame” radio jingle is fantastic! Smart PR department for running that, I’m passing that around to my radio pals! Love the “Happy Norwegian” too; remember when radio people had “identifiers” like that? I remember a few from my youth. like one guys was the “daddio of the rad-ee-o”.

    Speaking of Norwegians, we’ve been streaming Artic Outpost from Norway, on Radio Garden, can’t stop listening:

    http://radio.garden/visit/longyearbyen/K9cxX7Zd

    J.P., if you’re reading this, Artic Outpost’s “shtick” is “spinning the 78’s” from the 30’s. 40’s, and 50’s. And. must also be an AM radio station AM1270 in Longyearbyne Norway.

    But Jim, your post brings up a bigger issue about when local radio and publications reflected the community more accurately, or maybe it does but the community is falling apart? When I came back from Washington DC to take care of my Mom after my Dads passing, Milwaukee still had a full time jazz radio station with local DJs. Then it fired everyone and used a jazz feed from a satellite, then it stopped and became an urban radio station carrying virtually zero jazz. Sure, I get it, you can stream everything, BUT, I feel like it’s sad that a community this big can’t even mount the funds for a local jazz station any more! And Milwaukee had one the premier jazz radio personalities for years: Ron Cuzner. Now long gone, but well remembered by almost everyone of a certain age for his distinctive delivery!

    https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/roncuznerremembered

    • That’s really it: it’s about community. Radio and newspapers were part of that fabric — it turns out, they were key threads in that fabric, and without them, the fabric shreds.

    • It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Local radio and newspapers cut corners, so they lose audience, so they cut more corners, so they lose more audience, so they become a repeater for national outlets.

      On the off chance that I ever become a billionaire, one thing I want to do is buy my local paper (if it still exists by then) from Gannett and say “here’s a dump truck of money. Go be a successful local paper.”

  3. Rush Rox says:

    I guess that frees up one of my presets. Again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that ‘change is constant’.

    How I miss the good ole days, though, when Adam Smasher was on WNAP and ‘The Buzzard’ rocked Indy and Q95 ran their ‘Disco Destroyer’ campaign. And who could forget the Naptown Rock Radio Wars? Ah, those were the days…

    [Did I mention that I can remember when all of this was just cornfields?]

    • We miss the good old days in radio in part because nothing has come along to replace them.

      I also remember when there was NOTHING on US 31 between Kokomo and I-465 except the truck stops at SR 32.

  4. matt says:

    Ah, yes… the inexorable march of progress.

    When I was a kid growing up in small-town southern Colorado, we’d wait until the sun went down and we’d get KOMA out of Oklahoma City on my little clock radio with the flip numbers and the dodgy alarm (I think KOMA was 1040, but I can’t remember for sure). KOMA would play oldies: Beach Boys, Beatles, all the Hippy Stuff from the sixties.. all the good stuff.

    I eventually left radio behind for mostly the same reason I quit television: 10 minutes of content and 50 minutes of commercials, and no small amount of hyperbole just got to be more irritating than it was worth.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  5. Snuggled up under my blankets in Upstate NY in the mid 1970s, late at night with my transistor radio and earplug, listening to WLS Chicago, WABC New York, CKLW Windsor…off of the skywave…those were the stations that made me want to work in radio. Even in my small hometown, we had at least three full service 5kw AM stations with full local news departments. Oh my how I miss those days.

    • Andy Umbo says:

      BBF2, I used to leave my girlfriends condo, slightly north of Georgetown in Washington DC, and on one of the highest areas of the city, and pick up WLS and WCFL at two o’clock in the morning on the car radio, no problem, like they were broadcasting next door! This was in 2003-2004. When I got back to Milwaukee, after my stint in Indy, I was disgruntled of course for the lack of jazz radio. Tuning around at night one time, just last year, low and behold, I got some great jazz on the FM dial! Turned out to be the Skywave Skip from Muskegon Michigan’s Blue Lake Public Radio. They have a station in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Pretty rare and decent reception for FM! Normally it only would make the middle of Lake Michigan. I contacted them and they said they had quite a few Wisconsin listeners “working the skip” on a good night!

  6. Ward Fogelsanger says:

    I remember listening to top 40 WOWO at Culver in the summer during the late 60’s. Grew up listening to WLS in my hometown of Casey,Illinois. ( WBOW was top 40 then but their signal barely reached Casey 33 miles from Terre Haute.) Don’t want to offend anybody but the AM stations that prospered the most for the last 33 years were those that carried the Rush Limbaugh show….love him or hate him he made a lot of stations a lot of money.

  7. Nancy Stewart says:

    Grew up in Rochester listening to WOWO most of the day … ( my father had to listen to the farm reports early morning before it was even light enough to go out and start working). I remember Jay Gould and Bob Seivers (spelling probably wrong) and them doing the weather from the “world famous” fire escape. I would listen to WLS also and in the evening I could sometimes pick up a disk jockey that called himself “the old Hoss man” and I think he was out of Nashville … not sure what the station was, but the first time I ever heard of Elvis was on that station.

    • We could get WOWO in SB of course but we listened 99% to WSBT. My dad used to listen to WLS when he was a teen, and that’s where he heard Elvis for the first time, as well!

  8. I’ve been feeling awfully nostalgic the last few weeks as there’s a deep personal loss headed my way. I’ve been diving back into long forgotten childhood memories and this certainly took me there this morning.

    I never lived close enough to hear this station but the September 1982 clip sounded like a local station here when I was a kid. It’s gone now too. There is still a local fm station in a neighboring community where someone literally runs a radio station out of their garage. It’s supported solely by local advertising and donations and they appear to be successful at what they do. People are simply starved for local content instead of the bubble gum syndicated crap that everyone is peddling today.

    I guess big personalities and local flair are too expensive and not cookie cutter enough but they sure do make me happy whenever I can find them.

    • I don’t think people are hungry for the syndicated stuff. Radio listenership is down in every dimension. I wonder if the time for local radio is just past.

      • I think it’s down because they don’t give us a reason to listen. No one wants to hear the same twenty songs all day. I live stream an Americana station out of Nashville that’s all local talent and music that you don’t hear on popular radio. It’s heavenly. ♥️

  9. Don M says:

    With not much worth listening to on the radio here in Indy, a long drive around town usually means working my way through a podcast queue. But occasionally I’ll take a long road trip on the two-lane roads here in the Midwest, panning for radio gold by hitting the scan button on my AM radio. What a joy it is to capture that scratchy signal of what sounds like a still-alive local radio station. But you have to listen for a while to be sure, so you pray that your direction of travel is taking you closer to that sound and not farther away. As soon as you hear the announcer reading the local funeral notices, you’ll know you’ve found what you’re looking for.

  10. Dani says:

    I had no idea! I stopped listening to WIBC after Steve Simpson left. Some of my other favorites had either already left or had been let go. When I worked downtown years ago, I used to swing by and drop off Hilligoss Bakery (Brownsburg) doughnuts to the morning crew on occasion.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.