|City||South Beloit, Illinois|
|Broadcast area||Janesville, Wisconsin|
|Branding||The Big AM 1380|
|First air date||1948|
|Former callsigns||WBEL (1948-1998)
WBEL (1380 AM) is a news/talk radio station in South Beloit, Illinois with studios in Janesville, Wisconsin. WBEL, which signed on in 1948, originally focused primarily on the Beloit, Wisconsin area, and until 1998 aired an adult standards format along with some talk programming; that August, it switched to a sports radio format affiliated with ESPN Radio, changed its call letters to WTJK, and began marketing itself to the Janesville and Rockford, Illinois areas. In 2001, WTJK was purchased by Good Karma Broadcasting and became the first ESPN Radio station in the company.
In January 2014, Good Karma announced that it would sell WTJK and sister station WWHG (105.9 FM) to Scott Thompson's Big Radio; as part of the deal, the new owners began operating the stations through a local marketing agreement on February 1. Big Radio announced that it would decrease WTJK's ESPN Radio programming and add more local news; on April 14, 2014, the station converted to a talk radio format, featuring local programming (including drive time simulcasts with sister station WEKZ-FM) from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m.; ESPN Radio programming continues to be carried during nights and weekends. The sale was completed on May 12, 2014 at a purchase price of $1.45 million. On October 13, 2014, the call letters were changed back to WBEL.
WBEL's programming includes a morning drive program, The Morning Mess', hosted by Scott Thompson; Stan Milam from 9 to 11am; Jock Talk, the only daily local sports talk show in the Rockford/Beloit/Janesville region from 11am to 1pm, in middays; it's Doug McDuff from 1 to 3pm, and afternoon drive program The Afternoon Drive hosted by Sly. WBEL features ESPN Radio programming during nights and weekends.
Until 2014, ESPN Radio programming aired during most of the day, including Mike and Mike in the Morning, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, and The Scott Van Pelt Show. The station also aired The Jim Rome Show middays, while Jock Talk served as the station's evening drive program.
In 2011, WTJK debuted four football talk shows: Wisconsin Prep Preview, focusing on Southern Wisconsin high school football with emphasis on the WIAA Big Eight Conference; NIC-10 Tonight, focusing on Northern Illinois high school football with emphasis on the Northern Illinois Conference; Campus Kickoff, a weekly college football show with emphasis on Wisconsin Badgers football, Northern Illinois Huskies football, and Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks football; and The Sunday Sideline Report, a wide-ranging Sunday morning show with preps and college recaps, and NFL previews, with emphasis on the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. These shows run seasonally during the fall and winter. All of these shows returned in 2012 with the exception of Campus Kickoff.
In 2012, WTJK premiered The Prep Corner, a one-hour talk show on Saturday mornings looking back at the high school football action from Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. The show's launch coincided with The Prep Corner on the station's website, featuring stories, standings, previews and polls on the local high school football scene.
Recent shows added to the WTJK lineup include Tuesdays With Aaron, a comprehensive interview with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Inside Huskies Football, featuring Northern Illinois Huskies football coach Dave Doeren, The Badger Hour, a one-hour show devoted to Wisconsin Badgers football, and The Lance Leipold Show, featuring Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks football coach Lance Leipold.
WBEL features a diverse line-up of play-by-play programming, including the flagship (broadcasting) home of Beloit Snappers baseball, Hononegah Community High School football and basketball, and Roscoe Rush football. WTJK also carries Marquette Golden Eagles basketball, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events, Northern Illinois Huskies football, NBA on ESPN Radio, Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio, and the BCS on ESPN Radio. The station recently began carrying the Super Bowl, Monday Night Football, the Final Four, and NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game from the Dial Global radio networks, and select Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks football games.
- Terry, Chris (August 31, 1998). "New WBEL makes debut: Beloit's long-time radio station to become WTJK". Beloit Daily News. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- "Monroe man buying Janesville radio stations". The Janesville Gazette. January 30, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- "New Janesville radio station launches Monday". Janesville Gazette. April 9, 2014. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
- "WTJK Flipping To Talk". All Access. April 10, 2014. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
- "Consummation Notice". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- "Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- WBEL official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WBEL
- Radio-Locator Information on WBEL
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WBEL