History of WSMI Radio

1969 - Ron Pasquale P.D. WSMI, Porter Wagner & Lyn Lingle. Following a WSMI interview. Provided by Lyn Lingle
1969 - Ron Pasquale P.D. WSMI, Porter Wagner & Lyn Lingle. Following a WSMI interview. Provided by Lyn Lingle

WSMI Radio - Litchfield Illinois

TODAY in the United States more homes have radios than have electricity; than have bathtubs or indoor plumbing. In fact, there are more radio receivers than the total of all the beds in the land.

Radio to listeners of Mid-Illinois is Radio Station WSMI. A recent survey showed that WSMI is listened to more than all other stations combined, and more than twice as much as daytime television.

The major phases of WSMI’s programming operations include news, sports, farm programs, women’s programs, special events, and music. WSMI employs a full-time news editor, Jack Funk, and a full-time leased news wire of the Associated Press. Sports fans tune in for Ed Johnson’s daily broadcast “Last Word in Sports,” as they do each year for Ed’s annual broadcast directly from Champaign at the State High School Basketball Tournament. Each summer major league daytime baseball games are broadcast directly from ball parks throughout the country through special sports networks.

Two programs each day are broadcast especially for farmers. The noontime Mid-Illinois Farm Hour is the most complete noontime farm program heard in Central and Southern Illinois. Farm news, markets, weather, interviews, and talks by farm leaders are all a part of the program.

Women’s news, fashions, cooking and interesting interviews are broadcast each day on “Your Home and Mine” by WSMI’s Evelyn Smith. It’s a program that’s interesting, entertaining and informative.

The WSMI special events microphone takes listeners to the scene of all the major happenings in the area. Most recently broadcast were final arguments in a murder trial; the departure of the local National Guard unit; and the appearance of the President of the United States.

Radio Station WSMI in 1949 was little more than an ambitious idea in the minds of two young radio engineers and broadcasters, Hayward L. Talley and Thomas F. Payton, Jr. By the early months of 1950, however, the idea had grown to the extent that a new corporation, the Mid-Illinois Broadcasting Company, had been formed for the purpose of constructing and operating the proposed station. First officers of the corporation were Hayward L. Talley, President, and Thomas F. Payton, Jr., Executive Vice-President and Secretary.

Soon formal application was made to the Federal Communications Commission for authority to build. Early plans called for a station with a power of 250 watts, the usual power for a local station. Before application was made, however, it was decided to plan for 1000 watts, thus giving Mid-Illinois radio equal or greater power than any other Illinois station south of Peoria.

November 2, 1950, climaxed the many months of planning, building and equipment installation with the first day’s broadcast. Taking part were representatives of all phases of community life - business, religious, and political.

1952 marked the untimely death of one of the station’s founders, Thomas F. Payton, Jr. Tom is missed at WSMI - and throughout the area. But WSMI remains as a fine memorial to his life and work. The other founder, Hayward Talley, remains as President and General Manager of the organization.

Radio Station WSMI has gained within less than three years a wide listening audience in the south-central area of Illinois.

Taken from: Litchfield Centennial Book 1853-1953

6 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All

Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society