30th Anniversary - Where the Years Have Gone - A Timeline
1970 - Sangamon State University is founded as a public affairs university. Dr. Robert Spencer, the school’s first president seeks to establish public radio and public television stations on the campus believing they are natural extensions of the university’s public affairs mandate.
1972 – Dale Ouzts is hired as station manager and charged with getting the stations up and running.
1974 – Rich Bradley is hired as news director, Jim Newbanks is hired as station engineer.
1975- January 3 WSSR crackles to life. National Public Radio’s All Things Considered is transmitted via telephone line daily at 4 p.m. Peggy Boyer joins the station as the first part-time news reporter and one of the few women working on-air in radio at the time. The station establishes its Statehouse Bureau and uses news wire service reports from United Press International. The station features several locally produced programs, including the Public Affairs Forum, Illinois Economic Frontiers, Critic At-Large, In the Consumer’s Interest, Inside Agriculture, The Child and Family, various instructional programs and State Week in Review. It also offers a variety of music programs including Adventures in Good Music with Karl Haas, Mulligan Stew, Folk Festival, Reading, Writing and Radio, and Jim Huston’s Lincoln Library Concert.
1976 – The station hosts its first on-air pledge drive raising $11,000.
1977- Brad Swanson is hired as program director.
1979 – November 5, Morning Edition broadcasts for the first time with host Bob Edwards. Carl Kassel provides newscasts at the top of each hour.
1980 – Broadcast engineer Jim Dunn joins the station full-time. One of his first assignments is to equip the new remote studio van, which will make it possible to deliver live programming from any place in the Springfield area. Do You Remember these? Crystal Radio, Spider’s Web, Masterpiece Radio Theatre, and Starlight Concert are among the popular programs.
1981 – October 3, Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion join the Saturday evening programming lineup on WSSR.
1982 – Bill Hickerson moves from Saturday night’s Mulligan Stew to begin the nightly Jazz Tonight program. Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz debuts on 91.9.
1983 – Music From the Hearts of Space, The Thistle and Shamrock, and the Radio Reader premier.
1984- Karl Scroggin becomes host of Morning Classics and Mark Siebert becomes the new host of Afternoon Classics. The NPR Playhouse kicks off the year with a rebroadcast of the Star Wars radio adaptation and The Empire Strikes Back.
1985 – Weekend Edition begins airing. It is the year of school reform and WSSU airs a seven-part series on elementary and secondary education hosted by Verenda Smith. The half-hour programs are delivered to Illinois public radio stations across the state via satellite.
1987 – Performance Today, Music of the Baroque, and Sunday Night Sounds take their place on the programming lineup. In October, WSSR uses a satellite uplink to provide news programming feeds to all Illinois public radio stations.
1988 – In June, Click n’ Clack take to the airwaves on Car Talk offering motorists their best advice or best guesses as the case may be. WSSR travels to the presidential nominating conventions to cover the Illinois delegation, providing stories for all Illinois Public Radio Stations. Rob Gordon is named station General Manager.
1989 –On January 29, WSSR became WSSU. May 24, Garrison Keillor hosts A Prairie Home Companion from Sangamon Auditorium. Whad’ Ya Know premiers July 1, Scott Simon of National Public Radio visits the station.
During this decade a few major programs made their debut, including Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, Sound Treatment, Living in Illinois, Fresh Air, Sound and Spirit, and Performance Today.
1990 – January 21, WSSU satellite uplink with Car Talk.
1993 – January 5, Pittsfield station WIPA goes on the air. Governor Jim Edgar flies in to keynote the dedication of the station transmitter. Dave Leonatti leaves radio to spend more time with his family.
1994 – June 2, WSSU hosts Healthcare Reform broadcast with panelists including, Congressman Dick Durbin; Sally Jackson, president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce; and Robert Clarke, CEO Memorial Hospital
1995 – January 22, WSSU celebrates 20th anniversary. July 1, WSSU becomes WUIS. David Anderson is hired as general manager in August.
1997 – In June, Monitor Radio ends its 13-year-run on WUIS citing annual losses of $8 million. In July the stations begins airing 24 hours a day with Classical 24. Prior to then, WUIS signed off nightly at midnight and resumed programming at 5 a.m. Jazz host Bill Hickerson says goodbye to the station. Jazz with Bob Parlocha begins airing nightly. In August, Karl Scroggin begins providing enhanced arts reporting for the station. Dave Leonatti returns to the airwaves with Night Sounds. Long-time folk music host Bill Rintz resigns due to health reasons.
1998 – Federal funding cuts force officials to consider merging WUIS and WILL. The discussion is ultimately tabled, but the station is forced to cut costs significantly. The station hosts a large record sale. Having transitioned to compact discs, records are obsolete. Station programs become available online at www.uis.edu/~wuis/state.htm. The web address pre-dated the much simpler online site of www.wuis.org, which would debut a few years later. In December, General Manager David Anderson leaves to take a job in Florida.
1999 – Brad Swanson is named general manager.
The New Millennium
2000 – May 18, NPR’s Scott Simon gives the keynote address at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast and takes time to meet with WUIS donors. November 6, the station is now easily accessible online at www.wuis.org.
2001 – February 24, Cowboy Poet Baxter Black makes an appearance in Springfield. On April 13, the once state-of-the-art WSSR/WSSU/WUIS broadcast van is officially retired. September 11, the station begins extended coverage of the terrorist attacks on America. September 17, programming returns to “normal.” The fall fund drive ends October 19, two days early, having reached its $76,000 goal.
2002 – In March, the WUIS news department receives Associated Press Awards for Best Sports Report, Best Feature 2nd place, and Best Series or Documentary 2nd place. September 28, WUIS hosts Michael Feldman and Whad’ Ya Know in a live performance at Sangamon Auditorium.
2003 – In April, news reporters Shawn Crawford and Kavitha Cardoza are recognized by the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association. Fresh Air Weekend begins in September, and Blues Before Sunrise begins airing Oct. 3.
2004 – April 30, Bob Edwards hosts Morning Edition for the last time ending a 24-year career with NPR. In December, Station Manager Brad Swanson retires after 28 years of service to public radio.
2005 – WUIS kicks off 30th Anniversary with “A Celebration of Excellence” on February 24 featuring Kevin Klose, president and CEO of NPR. Professional Jazz Pianist Jane Hartman writes a new 30th anniversary theme for the station. Statehouse Bureau Chief Bill Wheelhouse is named General Manager. News Director Rich Bradley is recognized with prestigious Leo C. Lee Award presented by Public Radio News Directors. WUIS hosts Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me. The station raises more than $200,000 during its spring and fall fund drives. American Public Media's Speaking of Faith is added to the program schedule on Sunday mornings. Chief engineer Jim Dunn, retires at the end of the year after more than 25 years of service.