WILL (AM) signed on in 1922 as WRM. It became WILL in 1928. The station is directional mostly to protect WIBW (AM) in Topeka, Kansas. WILL (AM) operates at 5,000 watts during the day. Due to its location near the bottom of the AM dial, as well as its transmitter power and directional antenna, this is enough to provide grade B coverage as far north as Chicago and as far east as Indianapolis. It also serves as the default NPR member station for Terre Haute, Indiana; that city doesn't have a full-power NPR station of its own. However, at sunset it must power down to 500 watts and gradually power down to 100 watts. At 6 am, it increases its power to 335 watts and ramps up to full power at sunrise.
WILL-FM, first licensed in 1941 as WIUC and changed to WILL-FM in 1954, was the first FM station in the United States licensed to a university. It also moved its frequency to 90.9 MHz in 1954. WILL-FM broadcasts with a grandfatheredERP of 105,000 watts at an antenna HAAT of 259 meters (850 ft).
WILL-FM began an HD Radiomulticast in July 2008. 90.9 HD1 is a simulcast of WILL-FM's analog signal. 90.9 HD2 is a 24-hour classical music service, and 90.9 HD3 simulcasts WILL-AM's programming to make up for the reduced coverage of the AM station's nighttime signal.
WILL-FM has a translator on 106.5 in Danville.WILL-FM's all-classical HD2 channel is also simulcast on analog translator 101.1 W266AF in Urbana.
The U of I applied for a television license soon after the FCC lifted its freeze on new licenses. However, educational television was a new concept at the time, and most of Illinois' commercial broadcasters violently opposed the prospect of the U of I owning a television station. After a bill that would have forced the university to withdraw its application was narrowly defeated in the legislature, the Illinois Broadcasters Association funded a suit by a restaurant owner in Evanston claiming that the Illinois Constitution did not allow U of I to operate a television station. The case went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of U of I.
WILL-TV first hit the airwaves on August 1, 1955 from makeshift studios underneath Memorial Stadium. Originally airing for only a few hours at night, it began airing during the day in 1958 and added Saturday programming in 1974, four years after joining PBS.
Illinois Public Media's CEO and General Manager is Maurice "Moss" Bresnahan. The Station Manager is Bob Culkeen.
WILL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 9. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 12. The "WILL-TV" callsign was transferred over from the former analog channel 12 to digital channel 9 and the pre-transition call sign "WILL-DT" was officially retired.