|Broadcast area||Indianapolis metropolitan area|
|Frequency||1070 kHz (HD Radio)|
|Branding||107.5 and 1070 The Fan|
|Owner||Emmis Communications |
(Emmis Radio License, LLC)
|WIBC, WLHK, WYXB|
First air date
|October 30, 1938 (as WIBC)|
Former call signs
|1050 kHz (1938–1941)|
Call sign meaning
|W FaN Indianapolis|
|Power||50,000 watts (day)|
10,000 watts (night)
|Translator(s)||93.5 W228CX (Indianapolis)|
107.5 W298BB (Indianapolis) (relays HD2 of WIBC)
WFNI (1070 kHz "107.5 and 1070 The Fan") is a commercial AM radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is owned by Emmis Communications and carries an all-sports radio format. The studios and offices are located at 40 Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. The transmitter and antenna are located off Perry Worth Drive near Interstate 65 in Whitestown, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis. WFNI is simulcast on FM translators W228CX at 93.5 MHz and W298BB at 107.5 MHz.
AM 1070 is the former home of WIBC, which had broadcast on that frequency since 1938. In 2007, WIBC's talk programming moved to co-owned 93.1 FM, and an all-sports format began on 1070, carrying local hosts weekdays with ESPN Radio Network programming heard nights, weekends and in the early morning.
1070 AM as WIBC
WIBC went on the air on October 30, 1938. Its call sign stood for the first licensee, the Indiana Broadcasting Company; the construction permit had previously held the calls WGVA, for Glenn Van Auken, who was the company's president. WIBC began as a 1,000-watt daytime-only station. It was sold in 1939 to H. G. Wall.
The station was approved in 1940 to broadcast at night, and upon moving from 1050 to 1070 kHz as part of the enactment of NARBA in 1941, it increased its daytime power to 5,000 watts. Initially independent, the station joined the Mutual Broadcasting System in April 1941. Wall sold it again in 1944 to the Indianapolis News newspaper, making it the first in Indiana to own a radio station. Four years later, WIBC was separated from the News and sold directly to Charles M. Fairbanks and his associates, who owned the newspaper.
In 1950, WIBC began broadcasting at 50 kW during the day and 10 kW at night. Fairbanks attempted to obtain and start television channel 13; however, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of the competing bid of the Cincinnati-based Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, which launched WLW-I. Fairbanks sued, arguing that a local owner should be prioritized for the last VHF allocation available in town. Fairbanks prevailed in the initial battle to have the 1957 grant to Crosley overturned, but the FCC set aside the order in 1961; The two parties settled the dispute in 1962 when Crosley sold Fairbanks its Atlanta television station.
While WIBC had been the exclusive Indianapolis carrier since 1946, The 1950s also saw WIBC establish a broadcasting tradition when the station struck a last-minute deal to provide coverage of the 1952 Indianapolis 500, with Sid Collins as the lead announcer, after Mutual pulled out of telecasting the 500. The next year, its coverage grew to include personalities from (and was simulcast on) all of the other stations in town: WFBM (1260 AM), WIRE (1430 AM), WISH (1310 AM), and WXLW (1590 AM). WIBC became the keystone in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and remains so as WFNI.
"Radio Indiana, WIBC"
As television took over most network programming in the 1950s and 60s, WIBC switched to local news, talk and music. The station established itself as a highly regarded full service middle of the road (MOR) radio station, placing an emphasis on its colorful air personalities.
In the 1970s, the WIBC stable included Jerry Baker, who was also the voice of Indiana University Hoosiers basketball and the Indiana Pacers; Paul Page, the voice of the Indianapolis 500 on radio and later on television, and who served as an award-winning newsman at WIBC in the early 1970s, reporting from the first Indianapolis-area traffic helicopter (known as the "Ten Seven-Oh Whirlybird") until a serious crash nearly killed him and his pilot in 1977; and Chuck Riley, who did afternoons before becoming a very successful voice-over talent in Los Angeles. Doing sports on Riley's afternoon drive-time show was "Hockey Bob" Lamey, who got that nickname from doing play-by-play for the short-lived Indianapolis Racers WHA team a decade before the Indianapolis Colts moved from Baltimore and named Lamey the "Voice of the Colts". Another long-time fixture was former news director Fred Heckman, who began at WIBC in 1957 and was recognized for his "My Town Indy" features.
During the Great Blizzard of 1978, WIBC was granted temporary emergency authorization for nighttime broadcasting at full daytime power (50 kW) until the storm was over. Normally the station is licensed to transmit at only 10 kW of power at night.
Switch to talk
Over the 1980s, more talk programming was added and music was reduced, as listeners increasingly turned to FM for music. Under new general manager Tom Durney, WIBC became a full-time talk radio station in January 1993—eliminating all music shows—and also updated its presentation and cut back its news department. The moves were controversial: news director Heckman walked out, claiming a hostile working environment, while far-right host Stan Solomon's statements resulted in a suspension and backlash from advertisers.
Current owners Emmis, who also owned WENS (97.1 FM), purchased WIBC and the FM station, by then WKLR-FM, in 1994 from Horizon Broadcasting for $26 million. Heckman, who had sued WIBC for age discrimination, settled his claim and returned to the station later that year. He remained at WIBC until retiring in 2000 at the age of 76.
Indianapolis gets a sports station
WFNI was born as a result of a three-frequency, two-company station swap. These moves were provoked in part because Emmis had acquired the rights to the Indianapolis Colts football team for the 2007 season, which left the station with the rights to all major sports teams in Indianapolis. To avoid tedious shuffling of games among its stations and frequent preemption of regular programming, Emmis decided to clear a frequency for a new all-sports station in Indianapolis. The move began on October 8, 2007, when the format and branding of Top 40 WNOW ("Radio Now"), which was struggling, was sold to Radio One and moved to 100.9 MHz, the former frequency of now defunct smooth jazz WYJZ. This was done so that Emmis could clear the 93.1 frequency for news/talk WIBC, which had been on 1070 kHz on the AM dial.
On October 8, 2007, it was announced  that effective December 26, the WIBC call letters and news/talk programming would move to 93.1 FM, and that WIBC's sports programming would remain on 1070 AM, joined by programming from ESPN Radio, effective January 7, 2008. The new call letters WFNI were announced in December. 93.1 began stunting an all-Christmas music format as WEXM between October 8 and December 25. With the 1070 frequency open, Emmis launched its sports radio format on December 26 with a series of classic Indianapolis sporting events, ahead of its official launch date, January 7, 2008.
Prior to WFNI's launch, ESPN Radio talk programming had been heard on 950 WXLW, a lower-power station, from 2002 to 2007. Before that, 1260 WNDE was an ESPN Radio network affiliate from 1992 to 1994 and again from 1996 until switching to Fox Sports Radio in 2002. WIBC carried some ESPN Radio programming from 1994 to 1996, mostly GameNight on weekend evenings and some major live sporting events.
ESPN Radio's national sports broadcasts (MLB baseball, college football and NBA basketball) are all heard on WFNI, finally sorting out an unusual rights division among as many as four stations in the market during the early 2000s. (The NBA had often been heard on WIBC and Sunday Night Baseball on WNDE, regardless of which station had the main network affiliation.)
WFNI is the flagship station of the NBA's Indiana Pacers basketball team. It is also the AM flagship for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, simulcasting the games with sister station WLHK. As such, daily updates from Colts play-by-play voice Matt Taylor are heard in-season.
In addition, WFNI also airs Indiana University football (WIBC airs that school's basketball games) and the Indiana High School state championship games in football and girls' and boys' basketball.
WFNI is also the flagship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, carrying the NTT IndyCar Series (and its crown jewel event, the Indianapolis 500, which is simulcast with WIBC), as well as the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race.
Local sports talk
In June 2010, WFNI programmed three daily local sports talk shows. The Grady and Big Joe Show with Michael Grady and former Indianapolis Colts lineman and longtime WIBC personality Joe Staysniak aired at 10 a.m., followed by The Dan Dakich Show from noon to 3 p.m. and The Ride with JMV (aka John Michael Vincent) from 3 to 7 p.m.
Kravitz and Eddie was the station's inaugural afternoon-drive (3–6 p.m.) talk show, co-hosted by Eddie White and Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, with producer Grady. Kravitz left the station on March 15, 2010, leaving White as a solo host. An Emmis press release on May 15 announced White would transition to a part-time station contributor; he filled in frequently for Dakich before leaving in late 2010 to work for the Indiana Pacers; as of the 2011–12 season he hosts the Pacers' postgame call-in show. On May 24, The Ride with JMV took over the afternoon-drive slot. JMV had previously hosted the same slot on rival WNDE from 2004 to 2009. Grady remained as producer until becoming morning co-host in early 2011.
On October 6, 2008, former Indiana and Bowling Green basketball coach Dan Dakich was added in the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. timeslot. On April 5, 2010, Dakich moved to noon to 3 p.m., making room for Staysniak.
Indiana Sports Talk, hosted by Bob Lovell, airs Friday and Saturday nights and focuses primarily on high school sports scores and results. The program predates WFNI, having been syndicated statewide since 1994 by the Emmis-owned Network Indiana. In 2012, the show began airing on WIBC.
WFNI, like WIBC before it, is the home of Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson's nightly call-in show, The Talk of Gasoline Alley, throughout the month of May leading up to the Indianapolis 500. The show began in 1970.
Weekly local programs include Trackside, a two-hour auto racing discussion hosted by The Indianapolis Star's racing reporter Curt Cavin and former WIBC "Sports Talk" host Kevin Lee; and One on One, a longform interview show hosted by former Star writer Mark Monteith. "Jersey" Johnny Cimasko hosts a pre- or post-game show on Colts gameday Sundays, in addition to a weekend show in the offseason. Two Saturday morning shows focus on the Pacers (in-season) and the Indy Eleven (year-round).
FM 107.5 The Fan
The FM feed was officially launched on February 19, 2013 following a short test period. At first, it sometimes broke away from 1070 with a different broadcast schedule, carrying ESPN Radio's The Herd and SVP & Rusillo in middays before simulcasting WFNI's The Ride with JMV. All other local shows and local play-by-play were simulcast, with the AM and FM feeds splitting whenever conflicts arose.
On October 16, 2015, Emmis split the simulcast of 1070 and 107.5. A new translator, W228CX at 93.5, began simulcasting WFNI full-time, as the 107.5 translator began carrying ESPN Radio on a full-time basis.
On March 30, 2017, the simulcast switched back to 107.5, due to problems with the 93.5 translator interfering with other nearby stations, while also discontinuing the full-time ESPN national feed. With the move, WFNI began calling itself "107.5 and 1070 The Fan."
- "AM Query Results -- Audio Division (FCC) USA".
- "WFNI-AM Radio Station Coverage Map". radio-locator.com.
- "W298BB-FM 107.5 MHz - Indianapolis, IN". radio-locator.com.
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- FCC History Cards for WFNI
- "A new radio program". Indianapolis News. April 8, 1941. p. 10. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "The News Acquires Radio Station WIBC". Indianapolis News. February 16, 1944. p. 1. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "WIBC Being Sold to Fairbanks, Associates". Indianapolis News. August 30, 1948. p. 19. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "FCC Sets Aside Order Putting WLWI Off Air". Anderson Herald. Associated Press. November 23, 1961. p. 7. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Petitions May Resolve TV Licensing". Indianapolis Star. June 12, 1962. p. 23. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Broadcasting by Station WIBC-FM to Start Monday". Indianapolis News. December 1, 1960. p. 61. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Cochran, Polly (May 30, 1952). "Everyone In Reach Of Radio Will Have 'Ticket' To Race". Indianapolis Star. p. 18. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
- "Radio Coverage Bigger As Stations Combine Forces". Indianapolis Star. May 30, 1953. p. 19. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Rubinton, Noel. "WIBC Radio's Paul Page, 2 Others Hurt: Copter Crashes At High Speed". Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Shaffer, David J. (August 8, 1993). "WIBC's Durney is making radio waves". Indianapolis Star. pp. D1, D2. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Dinnen, S.P. (April 16, 1994). "Emmis tunes in for market share, to buy WIBC, WKLR for $26 million". Indianapolis Star. p. A1, A2. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Heckman, WIBC settle age-discrimination suit". Indianapolis Star. May 21, 1994. p. E2. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Less talk and more Heckman at WIBC". The Star Press. Associated Press. September 17, 1994. p. 1A. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Allan, Marc D. (September 29, 2000). "After 43 years in his town, WIBC's Heckman to sign off". Indianapolis Star. pp. A1, A7. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Smith, Erika D. (October 9, 2007). "On-air musical chairs: Pop makes way for talk on FM with WIBC move". Indianapolis Star. pp. A1, A5. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- "Format Changes". Your Midwest Media. February 19, 2013. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "W228CX-FM 93.5 MHz - Indianapolis, IN". radio-locator.com.
- "1070 and 107.5 Reunited" (blog)
- WFNI Website
- 1070TheFanIndy/ Facebook
- WFNI in the FCC's AM station database
- WFNI on Radio-Locator
- WFNI in Nielsen Audio's AM station database
- W228CX in the FCC's FM station database
- W228CX on Radio-Locator
- W298BB in the FCC's FM station database
- W298BB on Radio-Locator
- FCC History Cards for WFNI