|Broadcast area||Peoria, Illinois|
|Branding||WPMJ Catholic Radio|
|Slogan||With Prayer Meet Jesus|
|First air date||1977|
|Audience share||0.0 1.0 (Fa'10, Journal Star)|
|HAAT||91 meters (299 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||Peoria's Magic (original WPMJ station branding)
With Prayer Meet Jesus (2009 backronym)
|Former callsigns||WCNL (2000–2003)
|Owner||Allen C. Drake
|Sister stations||WOAM (1994–2009)|
WPMJ (94.3 MHz FM) is a radio station licensed for Chillicothe, Illinois in the Peoria, Illinois, area. The station has been owned by CRCI, L.L.C. since January 2010 and has broadcast a Catholic radio format since September 2009.
Although the station is in the Peoria radio market, it has relatively low power and is required to put a decent signal across Chillicothe, its city of license, with that power. It struggled over the years to find a programming niche, having no less than 10 callsigns in its 31 years, and going off the air from October 2008 to September 2009.
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Throughout the 1980s, 94.3 was a minor player in Peoria radio under many different formats, names, and call letters. While owned by Bro, it was country station WTXR "94X" from 1984 to 1986; followed by adult contemporary "Magic 94"; then satellite driven oldies as WBZM with Jim Zippo in the morning; easy listening WQEZ "EZ94FM"; and finally an audio simulcast of CNN Headline News under the WRED callsign (for "well read") with studios in the old Pabst Building in Peoria Heights.
By the early 1990s, rival station 93.3 (now WPBG), which had been CHR powerhouse WKZW "KZ-93", had lost its standing in Peoria radio. After trying to hold on to its heritage as "the new KZ-93", the owners of 93.3 finally discarded the name and callsign that had defined the station for over 25 years, and switched to adult contemporary with the nickname "Mix 93.3" and the callsign WMXP. In 1994, owners of then-number-one WXCL-FM, Kelly Communications in Peoria, bought 94.3 from Bro. Kelly immediately picked up the CHR format abandoned by 93.3, and in a controversial move unprecedented in Peoria radio, changed 94.3's callsign to WKZW to make it "KZ94.3", playing and advertising "today's hit music" just like before on the rival station.
KZ94.3 developed into an adult CHR radio station that lived in the shadow of its 93.3 predecessor throughout its tenure in the format. Former KZ-93 personality Andy Masur was the first program director and morning host. KZ94.3 lasted until 1997 with Jesse James in the morning; local comedian Brett Erickson, Keith Berry, and Denyse Haynak in middays; Kevin Ross, Jack Shell in afternoons; and Jeff Williams at night.
A decade of change
After abandoning the WKZW name and format itself, the station changed call letters to WFXF as "94-3 The Fox", a classic rock format with Howard Stern in the morning. That format was followed by a short-lived ABC Radio satellite-driven Hot AC format called "Kiss 94 FM" under the WKSO call sign with veteran Peoria broadcaster/programmer (former WIRL/WKZW/WXCL) Lee Malcolm at the helm. Since "Kiss", 94.3 had changed ownership from Kelly to AAA Entertainment in 2000 and been an all-1980s music format as "Channel 94-3" under the WCNL call sign. Not longer after, the station flipped to a simulcast with 96.5 FM as "The Point", a Hot AC format with Bob and Sheri in the morning. AAA sold the station in early 2003 back to Kelly to become WPMJ, first a Smooth Jazz format as, once again, "Magic 94.3". In 2006 94.3 did the format steal again from 93.3 when WPBG dropped the "Big Oldies" format in favor of Classic Hits. 94.3 immediately became "94-3: Peoria's True Oldies Channel", joining ABC Radio Networks as an affiliate of Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel.
Sign-off and restart
On 2 October 2008, WPMJ, along with sister station 1350 WOAM Peoria, Illinois, went dark after owner Kelly Communications could not find a buyer or investor for the stations. Company owner Bob Kelly said he was still seeking funding and expected the stations to be off the air for "probably" 6 to 12 months. The stations returned to the air just short of a year later, in September 2009. In early October 2009, Kelly sold WPMJ for $620,000 and applied to assign the WPMJ license by itself to CRCI, L.L.C., controlled by Allen C. Drake of El Paso, Illinois, a project coordinator for Catholic radio station WSOG in Spring Valley, Illinois, that itself controls numerous other stations in Central Illinois. The FCC approved the assignment on 12 November 2009 and the transfer was completed on 4 January 2010.
The station's Spring Bay tower collapsed on 13 February 2011 during a blizzard; as of 11 March 2011[update], the station is silent, but with special temporary authority to operate from an existing tower near the former Illinois Route 174 in northwest Peoria as soon as possible.[needs update]
- Tarter, Steve (2011-02-20). "On the Air: WSWT rolling along on top". PJStar.com. Peoria, Illinois. Retrieved 2011-03-17. Ratings are for ages 12 and up, 6 a.m. to midnight.
- "Markets: Peoria, IL". Radio-Info.com. Chicago: in3media, inc. Retrieved 2011-03-17.
- "WPMJ Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- "WPMJ Catholic Radio Home Page". El Paso, Illinois: CRCI, L.L.C. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
- Tarter, Steve (2008-10-02). "WOAM 1350 and WPMJ-FM 94.3 go off the air". Peoria Journal Star. Peoria, Illinois. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- "WPMJ Station Information Profile". Arbitron.
- Tarter, Steve (2009-10-11). "On the Air: FM station sells after price drop". Peoria Journal Star. Peoria, Illinois. p. C4. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- Kelly Communications, Inc.; CRCI, L.L.C. (2009-10-04). "File No. BALH-20091002ABB — FCC Form 314: Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". Retrieved 2009-10-11. Attachment to FCC file BALH-20091002ABB.
- "WSOG Catholic Radio 88.1 FM Staff". WSOG Catholic Radio. El Paso, Illinois: Allen Drake. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- "WSOG Catholic Radio Home Page". WSOG Catholic Radio. El Paso, Illinois: Allen Drake. 2009-08-07. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- "Consent to Assignment". Washington, D.C.: Federal Communications Commission. 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
- Kelly Communications, Inc. (2010-01-06). "Consummation Notice". Washington, D.C.: Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
- Ruck, Jeremy D. (2011-02-28). "FCC Form 911: Engineering STA (BSTA-20110228AFL)". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2011-03-17.