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WLRA Radio
City Lockport, Illinois
Broadcast area Chicago metropolitan area and the Joliet, Illinois region
Branding WLRA 88.1 FM The Start
Slogan Digital Radio, Press Start on 88.1FM WLRA
Frequency 88.1 MHz, FCC FM Channel 201
First air date 1973
Format Variety
ERP 140 watts effective radiated power
HAAT 40.0 meters
Class A
Facility ID 37190
Transmitter coordinates 41°36′10.00″N 88°4′49.00″W / 41.6027778°N 88.0802778°W / 41.6027778; -88.0802778
Callsign meaning Lewis RAdio
Former callsigns WFJL 93.1 FM,WLCL 600 AM,WERA 590 AM
Owner Lewis University
(College of Arts and Sciences - Communications Department)
Webcast [1]
Website www.wlraradio.com

WLRA (88.1 FM) or sometimes called WLRA Radio, or WLRA-FM, is a college radio station broadcasting a Variety format. Licensed to Lockport, Illinois, USA, the station serves the Chicago/greater Joliet region. The station is licensed to and owned by Lewis University.[1] Lewis University is a private Roman Catholic and Lasallian university with an enrollment around 6,800 students. The station is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters, Illinois Broadcasters Association, and Broadcast Education Association.

Lewis University's radio station history[edit]


  • WFJL-FM – (W - FJL - Frank J. Lewis) (93.1 FM Chicago) went on the air on May 22, 1949 until 1959.[2] WFJL operated as a non-commercial station by Lewis College of Science and Technology (previous name of Lewis College, now Lewis University). Lewis College sold WFJL-FM in 1958.[3] The new owner of WFJL-FM, Louis Lee, renamed the call letters to WSBC-FM from 1959 to 1963. In 1964 Lee changed the call letters to WXRT-FM. Dan Lee, Louis Lee's son sold WXRT in 1995; it is now owned by CBS Radio. WFJL-FM, under the leadership of Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Bernard J. Sheil, D.D., of the Archdiocese of Chicago and General Manager Jerry Keefe, radio format consisted of religious,[4] educational, news, talk, and CYO Boxing. WFJL's facilities were located at the Lincoln Tower Building, 75 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, 600 feet (180 m) [5] above the ground and had an effective radiated power of 29,000 watts.
  • WLCL-AM – (W - LCL - Lewis College Lockport) AM carrier current radio station on Lewis College, Lockport, Illinois campus. Located in the Sheil Hall dormitory basement from its inception until 1970, the station broadcast on 600 kHz to Sheil, Fitzpatrick and Founders Halls. Robert Feustal and Norb Bora are credited with the inception of WLCL-AM and introducing college radio at Lewis. In 1969, the Sheil Hall basement facility was upgraded with new QRK professional turntables replacing the old Garrard consumer models AND a pair of Spotmaster tape cartridge machines to handle promos, jingles etc. A used Gates Sta-Level compressor was installed, giving the station a much more professional technical sound. News, weather and sports information now came to the station via a United Press International teletype machine. A direct feed to the PA system in the Lewis cafeteria was also added.
  • WERA-AM – picked up where WLCL left off in the Fall of 1970. It was at this time that the merger with the College of St. Francis in Joliet was announced (the combined school would be called Lewis-St. Francis of Illinois) and the campus radio station at Lewis (the "North Campus") would now serve the two dorms at the "South Campus" (CSF) as well. A direct feed was installed to the newly remodeled Student Union. A second studio was constructed for production use with the turntables and mixer module able to be easily removed for "remote" broadcast origination from anywhere on the "twin campuses." Most of the carpentry work during the upgrade was done by Station Manager Dennis Stork and the studio wiring was done by Mike Berlak. One very late night, while station staffers discussed plans for the new incarnation of the station (around a table at the Pure Oil truckstop on 55), they noticed a dry cleaners' van in the parking lot with the name "New Era" on it. It was a "new era" for both the college and the campus radio station...and that was the inspiration for the new call letters, WERA. At that time, the station also changed transmitter frequency to 590 kHz. At the start of the Fall 1971 semester, the station conducted its biggest promotional push, "weraweek!" Highlights included the WERA YesterHop (a live broadcast/50's style "sock hop" in the Union) and a flight of the WERA Beer Bomber (a live broadcast from an airplane over the campus which dropped certificates good for six-packs to the assembled multitudes below.) During the 1971-72 school year, General Manager Mike Berlak began the process of applying for an FCC FM license, which would allow over-the-air broadcasts. In anticipation of this expansion, a completely new broadcast facility was built in the former Fitz Hall Lounge area, opening in the Spring of 1972.
  • WLRA-FM – (W - LRA - Lewis RAdio) went on the air March 4, 1973 on 88.1 in mono, 250 watts of effective radiated power at 90 feet (27 m) HAAT. WLRA is licensed as a non-commercial educational radio station. In 1976 WLRA added stereo. Lewis University was annexed from Lockport to Romeoville, Illinois and WLRA's license reflected the change. Although Steve Partman was the first General Manager of WLRA Rado, Mike Berlak is credited with all the work getting WLRA licensed and moving its facilities to Fitzpatrick Hall – he graduated before the first broadcast in Spring 1973 but came back to do the first show on the new FM station.


As with most colleges, WLRA included, the music industry and musical tastes of the station's staff and the listening audience change with the times. Colleges and Universities have a diverse student population and audience. The college's radio station has the obligation to meet these challenges. As Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote: "to live is to change... and to be perfect is to have changed often". College radio stations pride themselves by promoting underplayed and under-represented forms of music, the obscure and unique - versus the mainstream. The college radio stations achieve this with the independent music labels and the College Media Journal[2].

WLRA Radio's diverse programming reflects a traditional college radio format known as variety presented in block style (2-4 hour show).

WLRA Radio, through its creative staff and leadership, has hosted many innovative radio programs over the years. These include an eclectic and Freeform, experimental college radio programming, weekly live radio talk shows, Lewis University Flyer sporting events from around the country, remote broadcasts, and community service events.

WLRA's current programming includes news and sports talk radio, coverage of Lewis University Flyer Sports, local high school football and basketball; music genre formats including: adult album alternative, alternative rock, hip hop, rap, rock and roll, blues, jazz, reggae, religious, country, seasonal Christmas music, and Latina-American cultural immersion.[6]

In the Fall 2008 semester, WLRA staffed 24 hour with students on air. The station also introduced a Trop Rock format called "The Island" which features calypso, reggae, and Caribbean rock music.

WLRA has broadcast many radio remotes from as far away as Florida to cover Lewis University Flyer Baseball, Las Vegas to broadcast "The Practice Squad" sports talk show; and also the National Association of Broadcasters Convention at the Comrex booth. The radio station has also done broadcast from The House of Blues in Chicago, LaLaPalooza, Jimmy Buffett pre-concert, Ditka's Restaurant in Chicago, and ESPN Zone in Chicago.

WLRA, with a commitment to community service, has produced marathon broadcasts for a local children's hospital[7] and Christmas music programming with the United Way of Will County. In March 2011, broadcasting student Jodi Steinberg, set a WLRA broadcasting record with a 76-hour non-stop on-air marathon during "To Kill A DJ".[8] The WLRA Marathon broadcast record holders are the following:

  • Broadcasting Students Meaghan Glavac and Ashley Bihun, 100 Hours, November 2017
  • Broadcasting students Breandan Rook and Taylor Tisoncik, 80 hours, March 2016
  • Broadcasting student Jodi Steinberg, 76 hours, March 2011
  • Broadcasting students Courtney Everett and Josh Bowen, 72 hours, October 2010
  • Broadcasting student Marc Denson, 55 hours, March 2010
  • Broadcasting students Natalie Paul, T’rell Campbell, Brittany Miller, and Anthony Trotter, 48 hours, November 2011
  • Broadcasting student Joey Preston, 48 hours, November 2009
  • Broadcasting student Mark Serratore, 45 hours, March 2009
  • Broadcasting student Joshua Bowen, 38 hours, November 2008
  • Broadcasting student Mark Serratore, 37 hours, March 2008
  • Broadcasting students Breandan Rook and Taylor Tisoncik, 36 hours, November 2015
  • Broadcasting student Jason Brenski, 32 hours, 1993
  • Broadcasting student David Ridderhoff, 30 hours, November 2013
  • Business student Edward Vucinic, 30 hours, 1983

The money raised goes to the Family Assistance Fund of Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge, Illinois.

Promotion Slogans[edit]

  • Super 6 WLCL
  • Radioaction 59 WERA
  • You and 88 LRA
  • Stereo LRA
  • Eight Eighty One FM WLRA
  • WLRA - You're Alternative
  • The Lock - Lock 88
  • The Start - Digital Radio Press Start

Specialty Radio Shows[edit]

"The Island" features calypso, reggae, and Caribbean rock music (Friday Midnight - Sunday 3am)
"Route 53 Country" features country music (Sunday 6am-6pm)
"Friday Night Lights" features local high school football games from the Joliet region (weekly - Friday 6pm-10pm)
"United Way of Will County's Christmas Memories for you and your Family" features religious and secular Christmas music (Thanksgiving until January, 24 hours a day)

Technical achievements[edit]

Lewis University's WLRA Radio was the first college radio station in the country to become digital. Lewis University received a $350,000 digital broadcasting project grant in the 1990s from philanthropy of The Andrew Corporation, a leading worldwide communications corporation. The studios, music archives, music scheduling system, audio storage and retrieval systems (including an AES/EBU Broadcast Electronics – Audiovault serial number 001 and 002), digital audio consoles, CD players & recorders, minidisc players and recorders, and DAT), ISDN digital phone system, ISDN and IP remote broadcast codecs, Optimod 8700 AES/EBU audio processing, AES/EBU broadcast delay, Harris Digit AES/EBU fm exciter, and transmitters were upgraded from analog to state of the art digital AES3 type I balanced and type II optical. The entire digital project was a joint venture with the Freberg Communications Corporation of Illinois, Harris Corporation of Florida, Pacific Research and Engineering of California, A-Ware Corporation (Musicmaster) [3] of Wisconsin, and Broadcast Electronics Corporation of Illinois. WLRA also added RDS Radio Data System to the FM transmission allowing information about the artist and song to be displayed on a radio tuned to 88.1-FM. Lewis University installed a new self standing 250-foot (76 m) radio tower and new digital IBOC or HD Radio ready ERI Rototiler [4] single bay fm antenna in 2000 adjacent to DeLaSalle Hall. WLRA increased the antenna height to 200 feet (61 m) HAAT and had to reduce the effective radiated power to 140 watts. WLRA moved from the basement of Fitzpatick Hall dormitory basement to new studios and broadcasting center in December 2005. The new broadcasting facility was named The Andrew Center of Electronic Media at Lewis University. The state of the art broadcasting studios and transmitters are located in DeLaSalle Hall on the Lewis University Romeoville campus. In 2005 WLRA began streaming a simulcast of the station over the Internet and in 2008 mobile media APPs for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.[9] Simultaneously Apple added WLRA as one of their iTunes Radio Stations under College format. WLRA uses an AES3 Orban Opticodec audio processing/encoder for their 128kbs and 64kbs bit streams. In 2010, WLRA and Broadcast Electronics, Inc. integrated social media automation and Twitter with the newest generation of Broadcast Electronics AudioVault (FLEX) and Message Manager (TRE) RBDS data. The automation allow listeners to be notified of favorite artist being played through tagging. WLRA was the first station to have Broadcast Electronics integrate customer supplied computers, paving the way for other stations to upgrade into new generation Audiovault FLEX. In the Spring of 2012 WLRA was among the first 15 colleges selected to be part of Clear Channel Communication's iHeartRadio for both internet streaming and mobile media apps.

WLRA departments[edit]

2018–2019 WLRA-FM radio station leadership:

Department Director
Office of The General Manager of WLRA Radio Ashley Bihun '19
Office of Programming, Music, and Operations of WLRA Radio Lauren Brennan
Office of News of WLRA Radio and
Lewis University Television Network
Office of Sports of WLRA Radio and
Lewis University Television Network
Patrick Cibulka
Office of Promotions of WLRA Radio and
Lewis University Television Network
Meaghan Glavac
Office of Social Media and Marketing of WLRA Radio and
Lewis University Television Network
Office of Production of WLRA Radio Robert
Chief Operator of WLRA Radio Mr. J. Freberg, MS
Director's Office of
The Andrew Center of Electronic Media
Student Media Adviser of WLRA Radio
Mr. J. Carey, MScIS
Associate Professor of Communications and Director
Director's Office of Broadcast Operations
Media Adviser of Lewis University Television Network
Mr. J. W. Kilpatrick, MScIS
Associate Professor of Communications and Director
Chairman's Office of
College of Arts and Sciences Communications Department
Dr. D. Anderson, EdD
Professor of Communications and Department Chairman
Dean's Office of
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. B. Bondavalli, PhD, JD
College Dean
Provost's Office of
Lewis University
Dr. Christopher Sindt, PhD
Provost of Lewis University
President's Office of
Lewis University
Dr. D. Livingston
President of Lewis University

Notable alumni[edit]

Lewis University radio station managers WFJL - WLCL - WERA - WLRA[edit]

WFJL-FM General Managers:

Years WFJL-FM General Manager
1947–1959 Most Rev. Bernard J. Sheil, DD
Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Chicago

WLCL-AM General Managers:

Academic Years WLCL-AM General Manager
1965–1967 Robert Feustal

Norb Bora '67

1969 John McCrea '70
1970 Chuck Burkhart

WERA-AM General Managers:

Academic Years WERA-AM General Manager-
1971 Dennis Stork '71
1972 Mike Berlak '72

WLRA-FM General Managers:

Academic Years WLRA-FM General Manager
1973 Steve Partman '74
1974 Diane Drinka '75
1975 Joseph D. Vercelotti
1976 Robert Best
1977 James Boles '77
1978 John Mason '80
1979 Kate Dolan '80
1980 David O'Donnell '81
1981 Russell Tulacz '82
1982 Sandra Janicke

Edward Vucinic

1983 Paul Yedwofski '84

Martin Albert '84

1984 Sergio Cerda '

James Duda '85

1985 Lauria Skala '87
1986 Thomas Hehir '87
1987 John J. Sonnefeldt II '89
1988 Stanley Wysocki
1989 Anthony J. Musiala
1990 Calvert N. Coleman

Eric Wilson

1991 Christopher Thelan
1992 Kathy Holland
1993 Steven L. Jordan
1994 Renee Syzomonik
1995 Adam F. Schwake
1996 Candice Foiles
1997 Eugino Garcia '99
1998 Cindy M. Dardwin
1999 Gennin Bradley
2000 Mara Mishler
2001 Ryan Arnold
2002 Justin Greiner
2003 Patrick J. Brodnicki
2004 Peter J. Turano
2005 Carmen Madia
2006 R. Huff
2007 Justin Thomas '07
2008 Thomas Graham '08
2009 R. Brett Mega '10
2010 Mark Serratore '10
2011 Brett Lyons '12
2012 Josh Bowen '12
2013 Marc Denson '13
2014 Shane Gustafson '14
2015 Kylie Link '16
2016 David Ridderhoff '17
2016 Gabriel Ortiz '17
2017 Meaghan Glavac '18

WLRA's memberships[edit]


  1. ^ "WLRA Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. 
  2. ^ MarkTime. "Chicagoland Radio Call-Sign History". angelfire.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  3. ^ "Religion: Defeat in Chicago". Time. 1954-12-20. 
  4. ^ http://www.jjonz.us/RadioLogs/pagesnfiles/logs_files/1940s/1949/49_08aug/%5Bc%5D49-08-24-%28Wed%29.pdf
  5. ^ Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. p. 114. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  6. ^ "Lewis' WLRA Presents "Un Poco De Todo"". Press Release. Lewis University. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  7. ^ "WLRA Radio Raises Funds to Benefit Hope Children's Hospita". Press Release. Lewis University. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  8. ^ http://media.www.lewisflyer.com/media/storage/paper638/news/2006/11/24/News/real-World.Brad.Returns.To.Lewis-2471284.shtml
  9. ^ "WLRA application is available at iTunes Store". lewisu.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  10. ^ "My Blog | My WordPress Blog". b96hits.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  11. ^ "The School of Communications - Grand Valley State University". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  12. ^ "Minty Fresh". mintyfresh.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  13. ^ "Sorry - The Page You are Looking for Doesn't Exist | KSTP TV - Minneapolis and St. Paul". kstp.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  14. ^ "espn1380.com". espn1380.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  15. ^ http://www.knx1070.com/pages/30814.php?contentType=4&contentId=135165
  16. ^ http://wvee.com/pages/232926.php?contentType=33&contentId=12249
  17. ^ "Pete Michaels - WRXQ". Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 

External links[edit]