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|Broadcast area||Kankakee, Illinois / South Suburban Chicago|
|Slogan||Stronger Families, Stronger Communities|
|Frequency||89.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||January 1967|
|Format||Christian Contemporary Hit Music|
|Callsign meaning||"W Olivet Nazarene University"|
|Former callsigns||WKOC (W Kankakee Olivet College)|
|Former frequencies||88.3 MHz|
|Owner||Olivet Nazarene University|
|Sister stations||WTMK, WHZN|
WONU is an FM Station broadcasting on 89.7 MHz in Bourbonnais, Illinois south of the Chicago metropolitan area. It is a non-profit, listener supported station owned and operated by Olivet Nazarene University from Bourbonnais, Illinois.
From its humble beginnings on the 4th Floor of Burke Administration in February 1947 to its own state of the art facility on the Olivet Nazarene University campus, along with stations in both Michigan and Indiana, Olivet Radio, now known as Shine.FM, has come a long way in its programming, music, & training the next generation of broadcasters.
The first station, WONC AM 640, was a low power radio broadcasting endeavor under the direction of Professor George Snyder. With a staff of only a handful of students, in the 1st semester on air, 1,000 hours of programming was produced.
Around 1951, WONC was discontinued until The 25th Reunion of the ONU Class of 1941 raised the funds needed to bring radio broadcasting back to the ONU Campus. As part of this new venture, Olivet Alumnus, Dr Ray Moore was brought in from Kansas City to oversea what would become WKOC FM 88.3, a 10 watt mono signal.
In January 1967, WKOC FM would officially begin broadcasting, this time from studios located on the 2nd floor of Ludwig. Moore would move back to Kansas City in 1968, leaving the station in the capable hands of dedicated broadcasting students such as Russ Bredholt. Around the spring of 1971, Dr Moore would make a return trip to Olivet to resume as the Director of Broadcasting.
By the spring of 1977, it was documented that from WKOC's inception in 1967, over 250 FCC radio licenses were granted to Olivet Students that successfully completed testing for such. By the time this decade would end, Olivet's commitment to radio broadcasting was further strengthened with the hiring of Professor Don Toland.
Under Toland's leadership, 1978–1988, was perhaps some of the greatest growth in ONU's Radio Ministry. Included in his tenure was a move from Ludwig to the 3rd floor of Benner Library; updated equipment; TWO power increases to 420 watts Stereo and later to 35k watts Stereo; a frequency change from 88.3 FM to 89.7 FM; Share A Thon Fundraisers would begin on air to help Olivet Radio become more self-supporting; broadcast day would increase to 18 hours a day and later would become a full 24 hour broadcasting day; remote broadcasting for Olivet Football & Basketball Games; & Olivet Radio's 1st affiliation with a National News Network.
Dr Henry Smith would become the Director of Broadcasting during the Summer of 1988. One of his major accomplishments was leading the charge of getting Olivet Radio's Call Letters changed to WONU AM & FM. He would also help to further streamline the music format for both the AM Carrier Current Station as well as the FM Station.
As Dr Smith assumed other duties in the Graduate Studies Department at ONU, his good friend and former co-worker at Mt Vernon Nazarene College's Radio Station, Professor Bill DeWees, would be the next very experienced broadcaster to head up Olivet Radio and usher the Radio Ministry into the 1990s.
In more recent years, the late Professor Carl Fletcher, alongside Professor Brian Utter have taken Olivet Radio, now known as Shine.FM, into the present with FM frequencies in IL, MI, and IN. Today's Olivet Radio also includes online only streaming 24 hour formats of Spanish music & programming; Praise & Worship Music; & Spark, a music format for Generation Now.
In August 2010, station manager Justin Knight officially announced the expansion of WONU to a new station. WONU purchased the new station with donations and listener support. It will be based out of Morris, IL and operate at 89.3 on FM. Through this purchase and the money raised for the expansion, WONU will be pursuing its expansion into HD Radio. HD Radio has been planned and explored for three years at the station, and over those years the equipment had been upgraded to support the new format.
The HD Radio feed will carry the regular Shine.FM broadcast, Shine Worship on HD2 and Shine Rock on HD3. This new station as well as their new HD Radio feed is scheduled to go live in the first quarter of 2011.
On December 28, 2010, WONU began a simulcast broadcast in Lowell, IN at 88.5 FM on WTMK-FM purchased from the Calvary Radio Network. WONU moved the 88.5 signal to Wanatah, on April 7, 2015 in order to gain coverage in new areas for the station, especially Valparaiso, IN.
The expansion was planned in part because in 2008 many listeners reported static in the signal. It was found to be due to a new Chicago Public Radio station operating in Chesterton, Indiana on frequency 89.5 under the call sign WBEW. Due to the distance between Northwest Indiana and Bourbonnais as well as the close frequencies of 89.5 and 89.7, interference was degrading the already weakened WONU signal.
On July 28, 2011, WONU purchased WHZN at 88.3, New Whiteland, IN (Indianapolis market) from Horizon Christian Fellowship. A secondary studio is located at the First Church of the Nazarene on the east side of Indianapolis.
On December 1, 2014, WONU purchased translator W237BY at 95.3 FM in Mason, MI (Lansing market) from Educational Media Foundation. The translator is fed locally from WITL HD-2 at 100.7. A power increase on the translator took place May 13, 2015 giving full market coverage.
List of station managers
This is an incomplete list; you can help by expanding it.
- Ted Young (1960s)
- Rich Ungerbuehler (1960s)
- Herb Heavener (1960s)
- Ken Gates (1960s)
- Russ Bredholt (1960s)
- Bill DeWees (1991–2005)
- Justin Knight (2005-2013)
- Brian McIntyre Utter (2013–present)
WONU promotes and hosts Contemporary Christian concerts in the Kankakee area and on the Olivet Nazarene University campus. In addition to Christian music, WONU hosts types of performances such as Christian comedians.
Because WONU is owned by Olivet Nazarene University, it is sometimes used as a teaching station. The Bourbonnais studio contains a radio classroom with 20 computer stations configured specifically to teach radio. Olivet's communication department employs a full-time radio professor to teach the classes.
- Justin Knight "Olivet in the airwaves", MJustin Knight Announcement HD, August 2010. Accessed September 7, 2010.
- Official website
- Olivet Nazarene University
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WONU
- Radio-Locator information on WONU
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WONU