|City of license||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Branding||Newsradio 620 WTMJ|
|Slogan||"Wisconsin's Radio Station"|
|Frequency||620 AM kHz
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||July 25, 1927|
|Power||50,000 watts daytime
10,000 watts nighttime
|Callsign meaning||The Milwaukee Journal (owner)|
|Former callsigns||WKAF (1927)|
|Former frequencies||1020 AM (1927-1928)|
(Journal Broadcast Group)
|Sister stations||WTMJ-TV, WLWK-FM|
WTMJ is an AM radio station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin broadcasting at 620 kHz. The station is part of the Journal Broadcast Group, which is owned by Journal Communications, Inc. WTMJ's Milwaukee-based parent company also owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WTMJ-TV and sister radio station WLWK-FM. Journal Communications also holds other media assets across the U.S.
WTMJ Radio airs a format of news, talk & sports. The station also has served as the flagship outlet for Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers games for most of the teams' histories, with Packers broadcasts airing on WTMJ since 1929. WTMJ also serves as the Milwaukee affiliate for Wisconsin Badgers football and men's basketball games.
WTMJ has one of the largest coverage areas in the nation because of its power and dial position. The station broadcasts a 50,000-watt signal during daytime hours (10,000 watts at night). WTMJ's powerful signal covers most of the state of Wisconsin. Its daytime "city-grade" signal reaches most of the eastern part of the state, including Madison and Green Bay. Additionally, the station is heard clearly in the Chicago market and Grand Rapids, Michigan in their B-grade coverage area.
In May 1922, The Milwaukee Journal sponsored its first radio program on Milwaukee's first radio station, WAAK, which was owned by the Gimbel Bros. Department Store. The Milwaukee Journal bought radio station WKAF in April 1927 and built a new transmitter in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Then in June 1927, The Federal Radio Commission assigned the call letters WTMJ, to stand for The Milwaukee Journal.
On July 25, 1927, WTMJ Radio went on the air at 1020 AM to complement The Milwaukee Journal. WTMJ's first broadcast featured music by the WTMJ Orchestra and included a remote broadcast featuring Bill Carlsen's orchestra. Carlsen was later hired by WTMJ and went on to become Wisconsin's most widely known radio and television weather forecaster.
In 1928, The Federal Radio Commission reassigned WTMJ to 620 kHz. Some listeners began encountering interference from radio stations that shared frequencies in other parts of the country. Engineers solved the problem by developing directional radio signals, which are created by using multiple towers and controlled phasing. This allowed stations on the same frequency to protect each other, while providing strong signals to their intended coverage areas. In 1932, it was WTMJ's protected status on 620 kHz that led to the development of the very first modern AM directional antenna system, as WFLA in Tampa created a directional signal pattern in order to protect Milwaukee's WTMJ. Directional signals for AM stations continue to be used to this day.
WTMJ spent much of its life with a 5,000 watt signal from a transmitter in Brookfield, west of Milwaukee. However, when the 5 kW power limit on regional channels was lifted, WTMJ was the very first station in line for an upgrade. WTMJ was granted permission in 1995 to upgrade to 50 kW days and 10 kW nights from a new six-tower site in Union Grove, Wisconsin, south of Milwaukee. The station's signal is directed generally north during both daytime and nighttime operation. During the day, four-towers are used. At night, all six towers are used, creating a tighter northward beam. The former transmitter site in Brookfield has since been replaced by an apartment development.
WTMJ aired a full service MOR format featuring a mixture of music, news and local personalities along with sports play-by-play before switching to its current news and talk format in the early 1990s. WTMJ has long had a heavy sports presence, and has been the flagship station for Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers games for most of the teams' histories, with Packers broadcasts on WTMJ since 1929. The station also serves as the Milwaukee affiliate for Wisconsin Badgers football and men's basketball; the broadcasts will move to WOKY and WRIT-FM in 2014, after WTMJ elected to not renew its contract with Badgers rightsholder Learfield Sports. It had carried Badgers broadcasts for virtually all of the station's history, and held the broadcast rights directly until 1993.
WTMJ is one of the few major AM stations in the market to featuring a large amount of local programming. WTMJ airs news blocks in the morning with Gene Mueller and Jodi Becker with Greg Matzek giving sports reports, and in the afternoon with John Mercure, Erik Bilstad, and Jeff Falconio providing sports updates. During the midday Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner host talk shows and during the evenings Matzek and Falconio host a sports program. Late evenings (when WTMJ is not airing sports play-by-play) and overnights, WTMJ airs syndicated personalities such as Clark Howard, and the Wall Street Journal Report. During the weekend the station airs a mixture of local How-to programming (Jim Peck hosts most of them), talk shows including Darrell Connor, sports talk shows with Doug Russell, sports play-by-play and national talk shows that air in the late evening and overnights. WTMJ's talk programming offers listeners content related to politics as well as humor, lifestyle and sports talk, which continue to retain a strong presence on the station. The station also continues its commitment to news with Milwaukee's only 24/7 staffed newsroom and also partners with sister TV station WTMJ-TV, along with the Journal Sentinel for additional news and weather coverage.
- Dudek, Duane (November 22, 2013). "After 86 years, WTMJ-AM to end Wisconsin Badgers broadcasts". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
- Kirchen, Rich (December 2, 2013). "Wisconsin Badgers games move to AM 920, Oldies 95.7". The Business Journal. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
- Official site
- Journal Broadcast Group
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WTMJ
- Radio-Locator Information on WTMJ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WTMJ