WTAX History

WTAXHistoryWTAX began in Streator, Illinois in 1923 as a project of Williams Hardware Company. The Department of Commerce distributed the call letters and some say WTAX refers to the tacks the hardware store sold.

WTAX started out with 50 watts. Today it is 1,000 watts. Jay Johnson brought WTAX to Springfield in 1930. WTAX took air in a new home on October 31st, 1930. The station was housed in the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and at the time, shared the 1210 position on the dial with WCBS.

The station later moved into the Reisch Building. On March 29, 1941, the Federal Communications Commission realigned much of the broadcast dial and WTAX moved from 1210AM to 1240AM.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor Oliver Keller bought WTAX in 1943. WTAX moved into new studios at 710 Dirksen Parkway in 1948. Later, Shelby Harbison purchased WTAX and now it’s owned by Saga Communications. WTAX moved to its current studios on Sangamon Avenue in early 1997.

WTAX became a CBS affiliate in 1943. It was one of the first stations to participate in a national network reporting returns of the 1952 Presidential Election using the Univac computer. A year later, WTAX carried the first live broadcast of the Illinois General Assembly.

WTAX was one of the early radio stations to carry live action sports with the University of Illinois football games and coverage of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.


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