|Broadcast area||Des Moines, Iowa|
|Branding||640 WOI (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||April 28, 1922 (experimental 1911-22)|
|Power||5,000 watts (daytime)
1,000 watts (nighttime)
|Callsign meaning||Possibly "Iowa" backwards or the "oi" in "Des Moines"|
|Owner||Iowa State University|
WOI is a News/Talk radio station affiliated with National Public Radio serving the Des Moines, Iowa area. It is located at 640 on the AM dial. Due to its dial position, power and Iowa's flat landscape, it can be heard throughout most of the state of Iowa (as far west as Sioux City and as far east as Cedar Rapids). Its signal also reaches parts of Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska. The station's studios are located on the second floor of the Communications Building at Iowa State University in Ames (where the station is licensed) along with WOI-FM. It is the flagship station of Iowa Public Radio's all-news network.
9YI: The experimental years
The history of WOI can be traced back to 1911 when Physics Professor "Dad" Hoffman set a transmission line between the Campus Water Tower and the Engineering Building and set up a wireless telegraph station. By 1913 this was known as experimental station 9YI and it was sending and receiving weather reports by morse code on a regular basis. The first sound broadcast was an hour of concert music on November 21, 1921. The Commerce Department issued a full radio license for station WOI in April 1922 and the first regular broadcast took place on April 28, 1922. It is the oldest fully licensed noncommercial station west of the Mississippi River. The original callsign 9YI is now W0YI and is retained by the ISU Campus Radio Club, with the amateur radio station in the Electrical Engineering building.
Programming in the early years
The first regular programming on WOI was farm market reports gathered by ticker tape and morse code and broadcast throughout the state. Another early staple was sporting events by Iowa State's athletic teams. In 1925, "The Music Shop" aired for the first time. One of the longest-running programs in the history of radio, it moved to WOI-FM in the 1970s before going off the air in 2006. In 1927 another longtime favorite, "The Book Club" was added; it aired until 2006.
New technology and NPR
On December 1, 1949 WOI launched WOI-FM at 90.1 on the FM dial. In its early years it primarily simulcast the AM station. WOI-TV was launched in 1950 as the first television station in central Iowa. It was also the first commercial TV station owned by an educational institution. It was affiliated with all four networks of its time before it became solely an ABC affiliate in 1955. WOI-TV was sold by the Iowa Board of Regents on March 1, 1994.
WOI became a charter member of NPR in 1971.
Today WOI's programming consists of both NPR and locally produced talk shows along with local news and BBC news updates. The classical music of the early years migrated exclusively to WOI-FM in the 1960s.
When the radio services of Iowa's state universities were merged into Iowa Public Radio in 2004, WOI became the flagship of IPR's Operations and IT services.
- Iowa Public Radio official website
- Spark to Voice - History of 9YI and early WOI
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WOI
- Radio-Locator Information on WOI
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WOI