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WHO (AM): Wikis


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WHO Logo
Broadcast area Des Moines, Iowa
Branding NewsRadio 1040, WHO
Frequency 1040 (kHz) (also on HD Radio)
First air date April 11, 1924
Format News/Talk
Power 50,000 watts
Class A
Callsign meaning Derived from the word "WHO"; also attributed to Palmer Chiropractic slogan "With Hands Only"
Owner Clear Channel Communications
(Citicaster Licensee, L.P.)

WHO is a clear channel radio station broadcasting 50,000 watts on 1040 AM with a news/talk format. The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications and is located in Des Moines, Iowa. The station can be heard over most of the continental United States during nighttime hours. During daytime hours, its transmitter power and Iowa's flat land allows it to be heard in almost all of Iowa, as well as parts of Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska.



WHO first began broadcasting on April 11, 1924, from the top floor of the Liberty Buildingin downtown Des Moines. The callsign came from the fact that during the 1920s people searching for stations on the radio dial would ask, "Who is it?" The station was originally owned by Bankers Life, which is now the Principal Financial Group. After the FRC's General Order 40 reallocated frequencies in 1928, WHO ended up sharing time on the same frequency with WOC in Davenport. In 1930, B. J. Palmer, owner of WOC, bought WHO, and the two stations operated together as WOC-WHO until a new 50,000-watt transmitter near Mitchellville began operating on November 11, 1933. (WOC ceased broadcasting that day but returned on another frequency a year later.) Palmer later changed the call letter slogan to represent 'With Hands Only', which he had adopted as a slogan of Chiropractic. WHO moved from 1000 AM to the current 1040 AM on March 29, 1941, as a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. Today WHO is one of only two 50,000-watt AM radio stations in Iowa (KXEL in Waterloo is the other), though WHO's signal is non-directional and KXEL's is directional[1].

In 1948, WHO-FM 100.3 signed on the air; WHO-FM has changed formats and call letters several times since then and now broadcasts as KDRB, "100.3 The Bus." In 1954, WHO-TV began broadcasting on channel 13.

WHO was owned by the Palmer family until Jacor Broadcasting purchased the station in 1997; Jacor merged with Clear Channel Communications a year later. WHO and the other Clear Channel radio stations in Des Moines (KDRB, KPTL, KKDM, and KXNO) continued to share a building with WHO-TV until they moved into a new facility in 2005.

Personalities and programming

Future President Ronald Reagan working for WHO in the mid-1930s

United States President Ronald Reagan worked as a sportscaster with WHO from 1932 to 1937. Among his duties were re-creations of Chicago Cubs baseball games, for during that time period, teams could not broadcast games live outside of their home areas.

Current local talk show hosts include Van Harden and Bonnie Lucas, co-hosts of the Van & Bonnie[2] morning show; Jan Mickelson; and Steve Deace, who previously did sports talk radio (most recently with sister station KXNO) before taking over the afternoon drive slot in June 2006. Weekend local talk shows include Saturday Morning Live and the WHO Radio Wise Guys. WHO also carries syndicated talk shows such as those hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and Michael Medved.

WHO has also been the longtime home for University of Iowa sports. Jim Zabel, who joined WHO in 1944[3], was their play-by-play voice for Hawkeye football and basketball games from 1949 to 1996. While Gary Dolphin now handles those duties, Zabel remains with WHO as co-host (with Jon Miller of, who is the heir apparent to Zabel as WHO's Sports Director, announced in May 2006) of the Sound Off sports talk show that airs after Hawkeye games, and as co-host of Two Guys Named Jim on Sunday nights with former Iowa State University football coach Jim Walden.

WHO perennially ranks at or near the top of the Arbitron ratings in the Des Moines market.

WHO broadcasts an Internet stream from 4:59 am (Central Time zone) to 10:00 pm weekdays, Saturdays from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, and Sundays from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm[4]. Legal issues prevent WHO from streaming 24 hours per day.


  • Stein, Jeff, Making Waves: The People and Places of Iowa Broadcasting (ISBN 0-9718323-1-5). Cedar Rapids, Iowa: WDG Communications, 2004.

External links



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