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WHOW newsagtalk1520-92.3 logo.jpg
City Clinton, Illinois
Branding The Big 1520
Slogan News/Ag/Talk
Frequency 1520 kHz
Translator(s) 92.3 MHz (W222BG)
Format farm news and talk radio
Power 5,000 watts day
1,000 watts critical hours
250 watts (translator)
Class D
Facility ID 13900
Transmitter coordinates 40°05′43″N 88°57′51″W / 40.09528°N 88.96417°W / 40.09528; -88.96417
Affiliations Salem Radio Network
Westwood One Network
CBS Radio News
Owner Miller Media Group
(Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Inc.)
Sister stations WEZC
Website DeWittDailyNews.com/WHOW

WHOW (1520 kHz, "The Big 1520") is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Clinton, Illinois, United States. The station, established in 1947, is owned by the Miller Media Group and the broadcast license is held by Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Inc. WHOW is a daytime-only station broadcasting on the United States clear-channel frequency of 1520 AM. It must sign-off at night to protect Class A WWKB Buffalo, New York, and KOKC Oklahoma City.

WHOW broadcasts a farm news and talk radio format branded as "The Big 1520".[1] The station airs local news and public affairs programs, agricultural news, and a tradio program called "RFD Trading Post".[2] WHOW places special emphasis on serving the farm community of Central Illinois with a weekday morning farm show, live and local agriculture talk shows, a syndicated noon farm show, "The Horse Show", and frequent market reports.[2][3]

Weekday syndicated talk programming includes Michael Medved, Jim Bohannon, Larry Elder and Red Eye Radio overnights. On weekends, WHOW carries CBS Sports Radio programming, along with a Saturday morning farm show, local Clinton High School football and basketball games, and afternoon blocks of classic country music.[2]


Early years[edit]

This station began broadcast operations in August 1947 as a 1,000 watt daytime-only radio station broadcasting at 1520 kHz as WHOW.[4] The station, licensed to serve the community of Clinton, Illinois, was owned by Dr. Keith Rhea, H.E. Rhea, Rex K. Rhea, Tom Dinsmore, and Frank Moots doing business as the Cornbelt Broadcasting Company.[4]

Livesay era[edit]

WHOW licensee Cornbelt Broadcasting Company was acquired by James R. "Ray" Livesay in September 1950.[5] The station was able to increase its daytime signal to 5,000 watts in 1962.[6] On April 19, 1972, the station's studios were moved from the downtown square to an office building at its tower site, four miles (6 km) south of Clinton, built to resemble a "big red barn".[6][7][8] (The station and its FM sister station still operate from this facility.)[7] Inspired by the April 1987 opening of the Clinton Nuclear Generating Station, WHOW changed its motto to "WHOW, your radio active station" in 1989.[9]

WHOW's Big Red Barn studios (2009)

Livesay founded the Daytime Broadcasters Association in 1955 and served as its president until 1982.[10] The National Association of Broadcasters presented the National Radio Award to Livesay in 1989 citing his "lifelong contributions to the industry".[10] Ray Livesay died in May 1995.[11] Livesay's son, James R. "Jim" Livesay II, took over operation of WHOW and WHOW-FM after his death.[12] Alonzon Newnum, the chief engineer for WHOW for more than four decades, died in late November 1999.[13]

Gone silent[edit]

In June 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to Cornbelt Broadcasting for its failure to maintain an operational Emergency Alert System decoder, post an antenna structure registration number, and enclose its AM antenna structure within effective locked fences or other enclosures."[14] Cornbelt Broadcasting did not file a response and on October 31, 2002, the FCC issued a forfeiture notice that ordered the WHOW and WHOW-FM licensee to pay a fine of $17,000 for "willfully and repeatedly violating" FCC regulations.[14][15]

In response, WHOW and WHOW-FM went off the air on November 1, 2002,[16] and notified the FCC that they had gone "silent" on November 5, 2002.[17] At the time of the shutdown, the financially struggling stations had a combined 8 to 10 part-time employees and had maintained an "irregular broadcast schedule" in the months leading up to the shutdown.[12][16] Within days, the station's office hours sign had the normal "8 a.m.-6 p.m." crossed out and "Permanently closed forever" written in its place.[12]

In January 2003, however, the stations resumed at least intermittent broadcasting with WHOW concentrating on news, sports, and farm updates with the FM station changed to light rock music.[18] Normal broadcast operation was restored in early November 2003 with personnel borrowed from other Cornbelt Broadcasting radio stations and recorded programming.[19] The stations were being prepared for a sale, then in the negotiation stage, to a group led by real estate developer and Illinois state senator Bill Brady.[20]

New ownership[edit]

After more than five decades of ownership by the Livesay family, Cornbelt Broadcasting Company (James R. Livesay II, president) reached an agreement in late November 2003 to transfer the broadcast license for this station to WHOW Radio, LLC (led by Bill Brady) along with FM sister station WHOW-FM for a reported combined sale price of $300,000.[21][22] The deal was approved by the FCC on January 26, 2004, and the transaction was consummated on February 9, 2004.[23]

At the time of the sale, both stations were "dark" for reported financial reasons.[21] In September 2004, with both stations back on the air, WHOW adopted a news/talk format while shifting all sports programming to its FM sister station which itself switched to a 24-hour all-sports radio format.[24] WHOW increased live, local programming and focused more on subject of specific local interest, especially farm and agricultural issues.[25]

Tower collapse[edit]

An ice storm, part of the Early Winter 2006 North American Storm Complex, struck the Central Illinois region on November 30, 2006.[26] On December 1, the broadcast tower shared by WHOW and its FM counterpart collapsed under the weight of the accumulated ice.[27][28][29] WHOW was able to return to the air at reduced power a few days later using a long wire antenna while the FM station resumed broadcasting from a makeshift 60-foot (18 m) tower on December 8.[3][26] The station received special temporary authority from the FCC in January 2007 to operate in this manner until a new, permanent tower could be constructed.[30]

The extensive damage and the station combo's struggling finances led the WHOW Radio, LLC, partners to sell the two stations to local media group owner Randy Miller.[3] In October 2007, WHOW Radio, LLC, announced an agreement to sell WHOW to Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Inc. (Randy Miller, president) as part of a two-station deal along with FM sister station WHOW-FM for a reported $400,000.[31] Kaskaskia Broadcasting, Inc., is part of the Miller Media Group.[31] The deal was approved by the FCC on December 7, 2007, and the transaction was consummated on January 4, 2008.[32] At the time of the sale, WHOW broadcast a news/talk format.[31]

WHOW, still broadcasting from a temporary antenna while the new tower was being erected, received an extension of its special temporary authorization on January 17, 2008.[33] Both the AM and FM stations returned to full power operation on February 25, 2008.[28]

WHOW today is one of Illinois' most prominent agriculture radio stations, broadcasting over 6 hours a day of ag programming weekdays and 1 1/2 hours on Saturdays. The station has its own local farm broadcaster, Jared White. WHOW also does a live and local morning show with 3 local interview shows a day, from 6 to 10 am. WHOW broadcasts Clinton High School sports, as well as Eastern Illinois University football.

WHOW is streamed at http://rdo.to/WHOW and streamed on smartphones thru tunein.com.

Former on-air staff[edit]

John Hartford, then known by his birth name of John Harford, worked at WHOW for from 1961 to 1963 before moving to Nashville to pursue a career in country music.[34][35] Hartford would go on to write "Gentle on My Mind", a song made famous by Glen Campbell, and record more than 30 albums of newgrass and traditional bluegrass music.[35][36]

Brian Leonard began his career at WHOW in 1979 and worked at the stations until 1980. He moved to California where he co-hosted a live comedy/music show on KSTS-TV, San Jose and then began a long stand-up comedy career, appearing on numerous TV shows. He was also a writer and performer on BBC Radio and appeared in several movies and TV shows.


  1. ^ "Station Information Profile". Arbitron. 
  2. ^ a b c "WHOW Program Information". DeWitt Daily News. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Doll, Bob. "Radio Resurrection on the Prairie" (PDF). Small Market Radio Newsletter. p. 8. 
  4. ^ a b "Directory of Standard Broadcasting Stations of the United States". Broadcasting-Telecasting 1948 Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1948. p. 112. 
  5. ^ "Directory of AM, FM, and TV Stations of the United States". Broadcasting-Telecasting 1951 Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1951. p. 130. 
  6. ^ a b "WHOW 1947-1972: Our 25th Year". WHOW. 1972. p. 2. 
  7. ^ a b "WHOW-AM plans party to celebrate 60 years". Herald & Review. April 25, 2008. p. D7. WHOW signed on in August 1947 from studios on the Clinton square, with its tower and transmitter 4 miles south of Clinton. 
  8. ^ "WHOW celebrates 60 years". Bloomington Pantagraph. April 24, 2008. When Randy Miller purchased Clinton Radio Station WHOW six months ago, he knew the station had a long and rich history.... In 1972 they moved to what is known as the "big red barn," about four miles south of Clinton. 
  9. ^ "Ex-mayor's encore rebuffs Warhol". Bloomington Pantagraph. April 17, 1989. In Clinton, though, WHOW radio may have outdone them all. The station's new slogan is influenced by Illinois Power Co.'s nuclear plant just eight miles away. "WHOW," goes the motto. "Your radio active station." 
  10. ^ a b Jonas, Ilaina (May 19, 1995). "Radio pioneer James R. Livesay". Chicago Tribune. p. 10. 
  11. ^ Burke, David (May 26, 1995). "Pioneer radio voice will be missed". Herald & Review. That voice, I discovered, was that of Ray Livesay, owner and general manager of the WLBH stations as well as WHOW AM and FM in Clinton. 
  12. ^ a b c "Radio stations still closed". Herald & Review. November 6, 2002. p. A10. Radio stations WHOW-AM and WHOW-FM remain off the air after shutting down late Friday morning. A handwritten sign on the padlocked door at the station reads "Office hours." The lettering for "8 a.m.-6 p.m." is crossed out, and a handwritten addition says: "Permanently closed forever." The station, which has had an irregular broadcast schedule in recent months, was founded in 1947.... Jim Livesay has run the station since the 1995 death of his father, Ray. 
  13. ^ "Deaths: Alonzo M. Newnum". Bloomington Pantagraph. November 25, 1999. He had a broadcasting degree from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., and was a chief radio engineer for WHOW in Clinton for 41 years. 
  14. ^ a b "Forfeiture Order (File No. EB-02-CG-104)". Federal Communications Commission. October 31, 2002. 
  15. ^ "Area radio station fined". Bloomington Pantagraph. November 2, 2002. Radio station WHOW owners have been fined $17,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for operational violations. FCC officials sent an order Thursday to James R. Livesay, owner of Cornbelt Broadcasting Co. Cornbelt serves as the licensee of WHOW AM-FM Radio near Clinton. 
  16. ^ a b "Radio station stops broadcasts". Bloomington Pantagraph. November 5, 2002. Area listeners reported silent airwaves during the weekend, a silence that extended through Monday.... It's not known whether the shutdown is permanent. 
  17. ^ "Application Search Details (BLSTA-20021204ABE)". FCC Media Bureau. November 4, 2003. 
  18. ^ Cain, Tim (January 16, 2003). "The times may change, but classic humor remains". Herald & Review. p. 2. When FM upgrades are completed, the station will split signals. The FM format will be light rock, and AM will feature farm information, news and sports. 
  19. ^ "Clinton radio station back on the air". Bloomington Pantagraph. November 8, 2003. The owner of a Clinton radio station plans to restore WHOW AM/FM to its former self soon. 
  20. ^ "Sen. Bill Brady considering buying station". Bloomington Pantagraph. November 16, 2003. State Sen. Bill Brady confirmed last week that he's inching closer to purchasing radio station WHOW AM/FM in Clinton. 
  21. ^ a b "Changing Hands - 2004-01-26". Broadcasting & Cable. January 25, 2004. 
  22. ^ "Brady group buys Clinton station". Bloomington Pantagraph. December 4, 2003. A local investment group led by Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has agreed to purchase Clinton radio station WHOW for an undisclosed amount. 
  23. ^ "Application Search Details (BAL-20031204AEM)". FCC Media Bureau. February 9, 2004. 
  24. ^ Cain, Tim (September 8, 2004). "WHOW focuses programming for each station; AM side newstalk while FM switches to sports". Herald & Review. 
  25. ^ "Clinton radio station to increase local coverage". Bloomington Pantagraph. September 4, 2004. More local news and local talk will come to listeners of WHOW in Clinton beginning Wednesday. 
  26. ^ a b Frazier, Mike (December 9, 2006). "Eight days and counting: Ameren says most power should be fixed today, but those still waiting feel frustration". Herald & Review. WHOW radio stations at the edge of Clinton have AM programming back on the air at reduced power, and FM was expected to be restored Friday. 
  27. ^ "Storm collapses tower, strands country star". Bloomington Pantagraph. December 2, 2006. The 400-foot tower for WHOW Radio south of Clinton collapsed as a result of ice, general manager Troy Hill said. 
  28. ^ a b "Making Moves: Friday Afternoon". Radio-Info.com. February 22, 2008. In Clinton, Illinois, WHOW-FM (95.9) is back at full power after an ice storm toppled their 325-foot antenna 14 months ago. 
  29. ^ "WHOW Tower after Ice Storm - December 2, 2006". The History of AM 1520 WHOW Radio - Clinton, Illinois. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Application Search Details (BSTA-20070116AED)". FCC Media Bureau. January 25, 2007. 
  31. ^ a b c "Deals - 2007-11-17". Broadcasting & Cable. November 18, 2007. 
  32. ^ "Application Search Details (BAL-20071025ABE)". FCC Media Bureau. January 4, 2008. 
  33. ^ "Application Search Details (BESTA-20070725AJS)". FCC Media Bureau. January 17, 2008. 
  34. ^ Burke, David (November 18, 1994). "John Hartford stays tuned in". Herald & Review. p. C3. 
  35. ^ a b "WHOW 1947-1972: Our 25th Year". WHOW. 1972. p. 3. 
  36. ^ Havighurst, Craig (June 5, 2001). "Musician, songwriter Hartford dies at 63". The Tennessean. Archived from the original on August 25, 2002. 

External links[edit]