History of WDWS-WHMS-WKIO Radio Stations

WDWS, named for its founder David William Stevick, began life on January 24, 1937. In the beginning, WDWS was a 100 watt, day time only station that broadcast from studios located on the 2nd floor of The News-Gazette building at 48 Main in Champaign. The transmitting tower was located just off the corner of Neil and Kirby Avenue in Champaign. In 1948, the station and tower were moved to the corner of Neil and Windsor. In 1961, the power was increased to its current 1,000 watts.

WDWS broadcasts 24 hours per day and is located on the AM dial at 1400. News, Information and Sports is the format for WDWS. The station is known as the voice of the Fighting Illini, as well as begin the local affiliate for various sporting events in the Midwest. We originate local talk shows as well as nationally syndicated talk shows. Today it is knows at NewsTalk 1400 WDWS-AM.

Sister station, WDWS-FM, was licensed in 1964 and took to the air waves in December 1948 as a 27,000 watt station. In 1971, the power was increased to its current 50,000 watts. The call letters were changed on November 1, 1988 to WHMS in honor of Helen Marie Stevick, spouse of WDWS founder and mother of the stations then-current owner Marajen Stevick Chinigo. WHMS is located on the FM dial at 97.5. WHMS is more popularly known as Lite Rock 97.5. The station is a 24 hour music station that plays a combination of classic and current rock like Adele, Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, The Eagles, Taylor Swift and more. The station only interrupts the music format in order to broadcast the University of Illinois Men’s Basketball and Football games.

For over 22 years, WKIO was an iconic radio station and a leader in the Champaign-Urbana entertainment arena, then went away. However in 2013, WKIO saw its rebirth, with a different corporation, but under the direction of the same programmer, Mike Haile, who made WKIO a household name. You’ll find Classic Hits 107.9 WKIO the best collection of rock and pop music from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

All three radio stations operate from the same facility and use the majority of the same staff members. The on-air staff members are different as each radio station is different than the other. The sales staff assist over 300 different clients, building advertising schedules that will reach their target audiences, while the promotions department works to increase awareness of special events. The news staff is responsible for gathering and reporting on community and national events and issue. The traffic department produces the sports formats and broadcast program logs that keep both stations playing the right commercials at the right times.

In 2017, our radio operations relocated from their former building at 2301 South Neil Street to our downtown offices at 15 Main Street with new studios with the latest technology. With this move, all business that fall under the News-Gazette Media umbrella are all under one roof.