At 4:00 in the afternoon on April 30, 1959, the Federal Communications Commission granted permission for a new radio station to begin broadcasting in Madison at 102.5 FM. About half an hour later the new station – WRVB – signed on the air.
The radio station was the fulfillment of a dream for a Christian Radio Ministry in Madison for local businessman Paul Stewart. Stewart and many others in the community prayed and worked and prayed some more before the station was finally a reality that April afternoon sixty years ago.
Operating out of Stewart’s office building on Madison’s east side, the new station had limited power and resources in those early days. Initially, broadcasting only about 10 hours a day, the station promised to increase hours as finances permitted. With the purchase of a new tape-recorder in 1960, the broadcast day increased to 9:30am – 10pm!
The signal area also grew in 1964, when the station moved to a taller tower on a hill south of Madison. The studios and offices also relocated to that hill, which soon was referred to as “Gospel Mountain.”
In 1972, station owner Paul Stewart felt called to a new ministry field. He received offers from many companies wanting to purchase the station, but Stewart desired for the station to continue its Christian programming. On January 22, 1973, the station’s call letters changed to WNWC and began operating as part of Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern). Started in 1949 by the school’s president at the time, the Rev. Billy Graham, Northwestern Media now operates over twenty stations and signals throughout the Midwest including Minneapolis/St Paul, Kansas City and Des Moines.
Today, Life 102.5 broadcasts 24 hours a day as a listener-supported Christian music station reaching Madison, Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Local announcers, broadcasting from studios on Madison’s west side seek to encourage and inspire believers in their faith and share God’s love with all who call this area their home.
WNWC in the news: