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|Broadcast area||Chicago market|
|Slogan||Music of Power and Praise|
|Frequency||1390 AM (kHz)
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||1923|
|Callsign meaning||Gospel Radio Blessings|
|Former callsigns||WGCI (AM) (1983–2004)
WVON (AM) (1975–1983)
WNUS (AM) (c. 1965–1975)
(AMFM Broadcasting Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WEBG, WGCI-FM, WVON, WKSC-FM, WLIT, WVAZ|
|Webcast||Listen Live (via iHeartRadio)|
WGRB, 1390 AM, is a radio station in Chicago owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. (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.
The station began in 1923 as WTAY in Oak Park, Illinois and was originally operating on 1360 KC, sharing the frequency with WSBT (owned by the South Bend Tribune) and WJKS (which went on to become WIND (AM)). It was owned by a community newspaper called Oak Leaves. In 1925 Coyne Electrical School purchased the station and moved it to their campus on Chicago's north side. They changed its call letters to WGES, standing for Coyne's slogan, "World's Greatest Electrical School."
In the late 1920s, the station moved to the Guyan Hotel on the West Side of Chicago. The station aired big band music from the nearby Guyan's Paradise Ballroom. Louis Guyan, owner of the hotel and ballroom, purchased the station from Coyne with an idea of serving those in the community by offering many foreign language programs. It broadcast several hours a day of programming in Italian, French, German, Spanish and Polish.
Gene T. Dyer purchased the station in the early 1930s, eventually moving it from the Guyan Hotel to 2400 W. Madison Street, where co-owned WSBC (AM) and WCBD (AM) were located. In 1941, WGES moved to 1390 kHz and went from 500 watts power to 5,000 watts power, moving its transmitter location from the roof of the Guyan Hotel to an antenna farm at 86th and Kedzie in Chicago. In 1944 the FCC ruled that radio station owners could only own one AM and FM station per market. Gene Dyer sold WGES to his brother, Dr. John Dyer, and WSBC to Julius Miller, a broadcaster at the station. WGES moved from 2400 West Madison to a converted mansion at Washington Boulevard and Washtenaw Street. The station added African American programming to its daily schedule in the mid-1940s with a daily blues and jump music program conducted by Al Benson, a former minister whose church services were broadcast on WGES. By the 1950s, more hours of African-American programming were added, with the addition of disk jockeys Richard Stamz, Ric (Stan) Recardo, Sam Evans, Herb Kent, Franklin McCarthy and Sid McCoy.(McCoy would later go on to be the voice of Soul Train.) WGES's foreign language programming was cut back to only four hours a day.
The callsign changed to WYNR on 1 September 1962. McLendon fired all of its foreign language announcers and black disc jockeys, and hired black disc jockeys from radio stations in other cities for the top 40 format.
As WYNR, "Winner", 1390 was owned by Gordon McLendon of Dallas, Texas. The station was hosted primarily by black disc jockeys from 1962 thru 1964, when it became America's first 'all-news' radio station, W-NUS, on September 3, 1964. Announcers included Big John Evans, Dick Kemp (The Wild Child), Luckey Cordell, Bruce Brown, Floyd Brown, and Yvonne Daniels.
There were complaints to the United States Federal Communications Commission that the station had eliminated foreign-language programming. The FCC held a hearing to investigate the complaints at which some politicians testified.
The station switched to rhythm and blues in 1963, then abruptly changed to all-news with the new call letters WNUS. 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. In 1969, McLendon changed the stations' format to beautiful music as more powerful WBBM (AM) switched to all-news. In 1975, Globetrotter Communications, owners of soul music station WVON, purchased WNUS-AM-FM from McLendon and moved WVON from its 1000-watt allocation on 1450 kHz to the 5000-watt allocation on 1390 kHz that had been occupied by WNUS. WNUS-FM was also changed to a soul music format, with a change of call letters to WGCI-FM. A few years later, Globetrotter was purchased by the Gannett media conglomerate.
As music listeners switched from AM to FM in large numbers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, 1390 tried several formats including all talk, urban oldies and simulcasting WGCI (FM). The call sign was changed to WGCI (AM) in 1984. The format changed to gospel music on October 5, 1998 under Clear Channel ownership. Its call letters were changed to WGRB (Gospel Radio Blessings for Chicago) in 2003 to differentiate it from its sister FM station.
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- "Chicago Metro Radio List — Past & Present". 1999-06-12. p. 3.
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- "Chicago's Notable Time Shares-WGES". Zecom Communications. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Paradise Ballroom". Jazz Age Chicago. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
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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.
- "Owner of WYNR Explains Odd Inauguration". Chicago Tribune. April 23, 1963. p. 24. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
Interrupting the music were Chicago Urban league announcements urging children to return to school, and what McLendon called "exoticas"-ad- offering for ...(pay per view)
- "Radio Timeline-WNUS". Zecom Communications. Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
- "WGN Gold-Floyd Brown". WGN Radio. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- "Fox Valley inducts 8 into arts hall of fame". The Daily Herald. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- WMAQ's Floyd Brown Batting 1.000. Billboard. 25 July 1970. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- "Yvonne Daniels, Radio Hall of Fame". Radio Hall of Fame. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "FCC will hear complaints on station WYNR". Chicago Tribune. January 24, 1963. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
Federal Communications Commission in Washington said yesterday that it will hold hearings in Chicago at an unannounced date on complaints of program ...
- "N. A. A. C. P. Aid Defends WYNR Radio Policies. Fuqua Holds Programs Serve All". Chicago Tribune. April 20, 1963. p. A9. Retrieved 1 February 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 ...
- "Rep. Pucinski, Berry Testify at WYNR Quiz. Issue Is Dropping of Foreign Program". Chicago Tribune. April 18, 1963. p. W19. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
- "FCC to Investigate Complaints on WYNR". Chicago Tribune. April 7, 1963. p. A4. Retrieved 1 February 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 ...
- http://www.hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=3 HD Radio Guide for Chicago
- Inspiration 1390 — official site
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WGRB
- Radio-Locator Information on WGRB
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WGRB