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WILL-TV Illinois Public Media logo (2019).png
UrbanaChampaign, Illinois
United States
CityUrbana, Illinois
ChannelsDigital: 9 (VHF)
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
BrandingPBS WILL Illinois Public Media
OwnerUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
(The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois)
First air date
August 1, 1955[1][2]
Former call signs
WILL-DT (2003–2009)
Former channel number(s)
12 (VHF, 1955–2009)
NET (1955–1970)
Call sign meaning
ILLinois or the word "will"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID68939
ClassDT (NCE)
ERP30 kW
HAAT302 m (991 ft)
Transmitter coordinates40°2′18″N 88°40′10″W / 40.03833°N 88.66944°W / 40.03833; -88.66944 (WILL-TV)
Public license information
WILL IPM Logo FM 2015 crop.png
CityUrbana, Illinois
Broadcast areaChampaign-Urbana
Frequency90.9 MHz (HD Radio)
  • WILL-FM 90.9 (main program)
  • WILL-FM 101.1 (90.9 HD2)
FormatFM/HD1: Classical music, NPR news
HD2: Classical music
HD3: News/Talk (WILL (AM) simulcast)
First air date
September 1, 1941[3]
Former call signs
WIUC (1941–1954)[4]
Former frequencies
42.9 MHz (1941-1947)[5]
91.7 MHz (1947-1954)[5][4]
Technical information
Facility ID68940
ClassB (NCE)
ERP105,000 watts
HAAT259 m (850 ft)
WILL IPM Logo AM 2015 crop.png
CityUrbana, Illinois
Broadcast areaChampaign-Urbana
Frequency580 kHz
BrandingWILL AM 580
First air date
March 27, 1922[6]
Former call signs
WRM (1922–1928)[4]
Former frequencies
833 kHz (1922–192?)[7]
1100 kHz (192?–1928)[8]
890 kHz (1928–1937)[8]
Technical information
Facility ID68941
HAAT103.6 m (340 ft)
Campbell Hall, the home of the WILL stations
Campbell Hall, the home of the WILL stations

WILL is the call sign of the three public broadcasting stations owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and licensed to Urbana, Illinois, United States. It consists of PBS member station WILL-TV (VHF digital channel 9, virtual channel 12) and NPR member stations WILL (AM) (580 kHz) and WILL-FM (90.9 MHz). The three stations are known collectively as Illinois Public Media, and are operated out of Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunication on the U of I campus.


After World War II, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign hosted the National Association of Educational Broadcasters for the establishment of broadcast allocations (AM/FM radio and TV channels) for non-commercial education programming. The Rockefeller Foundation funded two-week seminars in 1949 (Allerton I) and 1950 (Allerton II) of 22 educational broadcasters from across the United States.[10] The outcomes from these meetings established the foundation for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.[11] The NAEB was based at WILL from 1951 to 1961.[4]

WILL-TV received its largest bequest, $1 million, from Lois Dickson, who had been a contributor to the station for the thirty years before her death at the age of 95 in 2004.[12]

In April 2010, WILL announced a series of cost-reducing measures, including the elimination of its weather department.[13]


Both WILL (AM) and WILL-FM are members of National Public Radio (NPR) and affiliates of Public Radio International (PRI) and American Public Media (APM). The two stations helped to create NPR, and were among the 90 stations that carried the premiere broadcast of All Things Considered in 1971.


WILL (580 AM) airs NPR news and talk, along with agricultural news information for central Illinois farmers. The station is directional mostly to protect WIBW in Topeka, Kansas. WILL (AM) operates at 5,000 watts during the day. Due to its location near the bottom of the AM dial, as well as its transmitter power, directional antenna and central Illinois's flat land (with near-perfect ground conductivity), this is enough to provide grade B coverage as far north as Chicago and as far east as Indianapolis. However, at sunset it must power down to 500 watts and gradually power down to 100 watts, resulting in marginal coverage even in Champaign-Urbana. At 6 a.m., it increases its power to 335 watts and ramps up to full power at sunrise.[9]


The station signed on in April 1922, holding the call sign WRM, which stood for "We Reach Millions".[6] It originally broadcast at 360 meters (833 kHz),[7] but had moved to 1100 kHz by 1925.[14][8] In 1928, its frequency was changed to 890 kHz.[8] Its call sign was changed to WILL in 1928.[4] In 1937, its frequency was changed to 580 kHz.[8] It ran 1,000 watts during daytime hours only, using a directional array.[8] In December 1938, its power was increased to 5,000 watts.[8] Authorization to operate at night, with power reduced to 250 watts, was frequently granted, so that the station could broadcast Illini basketball games and the Illinois High School Boys Basketball Championship.[8]

From 1942 to 1998, WILL's studio's were located at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign's Gregory Hall.[4] From 1951 to 1961, the National Association of Educational Broadcasters was headquartered in Gregory Hall, alongside WILL.[4][6][15] WILL became an affiliate of NPR upon the network's formation.[6] In 1994, the station began broadcasting 24-hours a day, airing the BBC World Service overnight.[4] Until 2014, it also served as the default NPR member station for Terre Haute, Indiana. That city lacked a full-power NPR member station until WISU began carrying NPR programming in 2014 as a satellite of WFYI-FM in Indianapolis.


WILL-FM (90.9 MHz) airs classical music most of the day, but simulcasts some of NPR's more popular shows with its AM sister. WILL-FM broadcasts with a grandfathered ERP[16] of 105,000 watts at an antenna HAAT of 259 meters (850 ft).

WILL-FM began an HD Radio multicast in July 2008.[4] 90.9 HD1 is a simulcast of WILL-FM's analog signal. 90.9 HD2 is a 24-hour classical music service, and 90.9 HD3 simulcasts WILL-AM's programming to make up for the reduced coverage of the AM station's nighttime signal.[17]

WILL-FM has a translator on 106.5 in Danville.[9] WILL-FM's all-classical HD2 channel is also simulcast on analog translator 101.1 W266AF in Urbana.


The station began broadcasting on September 1, 1941.[3] It broadcast at 42.9 MHz, running 250 watts, and held the call sign WIUC.[5] It was the first FM station in the United States licensed to a university.[6] In 1947, its frequency was changed to 91.7 MHz.[5] Its call sign was changed to WILL-FM in 1954.[4] The same year, it changed its frequency to 90.9 MHz, and its ERP was increased to 301,000 watts at an HAAT of 498 feet.[4][5] It became the most powerful educational FM station in the United States.[4]

For many years, WILL-FM simulcast the programming of its AM sister station.[18][19] In 1974, it began airing a classical music format separate from its AM sister station.[4][20]


The U of I applied for a television license soon after the FCC lifted its freeze on new licenses. However, educational television was a new concept at the time, and most of Illinois' commercial broadcasters vehemently opposed the prospect of the U of I owning a television station. After a bill that would have forced the university to withdraw its application was narrowly defeated in the legislature, the Illinois Broadcasters Association funded a suit by a restaurant owner in Evanston claiming that the Illinois Constitution did not allow U of I to operate a television station. The case went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of U of I.

WILL-TV first hit the airwaves on August 1, 1955 from makeshift studios underneath Memorial Stadium.[1][2][4] Originally airing for only a few hours at night, it began airing during the day in 1958, broadcasting telecourses from the University of Illinois.[4] The station also aired news, documentaries, and children's programming during this era.[6] WILL-TV became an affiliate of PBS upon the network's formation.[6] The station added Saturday programming in 1974, four years after joining PBS.[4]

Illinois Public Media's CEO and General Manager is Maurice "Moss" Bresnahan.

Digital television

Digital channels

WILL-TV's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[21]
12.1 1080i 16:9 WILL-HD Main WILL-TV programming / PBS
12.2 480i Kids PBS Kids
12.3 Create Create (5 a.m.–5 p.m.)
World (5 p.m.–5 a.m.)

Analog-to-digital conversion

WILL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 9.[22] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 12. The "WILL-TV" callsign was transferred over from the former analog channel 12 to digital channel 9 and the pre-transition call sign "WILL-DT" was officially retired.

See also


  1. ^ a b History Cards for WILL-TV, Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Broadcasting Yearbook 1975, Broadcasting, 1975. p. B-101. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  3. ^ a b 1971 Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting, 1971. p. B-68. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The History of WILL". Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
  5. ^ a b c d e History Cards for WILL-FM, Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "WILL Illinois Public Media", American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Radio Broadcast. Doubleday, Page, and Co. July 1922. p. 276. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h History Cards for WILL, Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c "Broadcast Frequencies & Coverage Areas". Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
  10. ^ Hudson, Robert (Spring 1951). "Radio in Education : Allerton House 1949, 1950". Hollywood Quarterly. pp. 237–250.
  11. ^ Hill, Harold (1954). "The National Association of Educational Broadcasters: a history". National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  12. ^ Staff (Summer 2006). "WILL-TV Viewer Leaves $1 Million to Station". UIF Newsletter, issue 47. University of Illinois Foundation. pp. Illinois Gardner Web Site through WILL.
  13. ^ Kranich, Kimberlie (February 2010). "WILL Changes FM Format, Cuts Jobs, and Eliminates Weather Department". The Public I. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  14. ^ Radio Progress. August 15, 1925. p. 40. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  15. ^ Landay, Jerry M. Illinois: The Cradle of Public Broadcasting. Illinois Periodicals Online. p. 6. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Superpower FM Stations
  17. ^ "About Digital Radio". Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2016-07-03.
  18. ^ 1960 Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting, 1960. p. A-149. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  19. ^ 1973 Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting, 1973. p. B-65. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  20. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1975, Broadcasting, 1975. p. C-61. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  21. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WILL
  22. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 October 2020, at 19:22
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