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WTMJ (AM): Wikis


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WTMJ (AM) logo 2006.svg
City of license Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Branding Newsradio 620 WTMJ
Slogan "Depend on It"
Frequency 620 kHz (AM)
(also on HD Radio)
First air date July 1927
Format News/Talk
Power 50,000 watts daytime
10,000 watts nighttime
Class B
Callsign meaning The Milwaukee Journal (owner)
Owner Journal Communications
Sister stations WTMJ-TV, WLWK-FM

WTMJ is an AM radio station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin broadcasting at 620 AM. It is a 50,000-watt station airing a format of news, talk and sports. WTMJ is owned by Journal Broadcast Group, which also owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and sister station WLWK-FM.

Because of the station's power and dial location, WTMJ has a large coverage area. Its "city-grade" signal reaches most of the eastern part of the state, including Madison and Green Bay. Additionally, it can be heard clearly in most of Chicago. It provides grade B coverage to most of northern Illinois (including all of the Chicago metropolitan area) and as far east as Grand Rapids.[citation needed]


In May 1922, The Milwaukee Journal sponsored its first radio program on Milwaukee's first radio station, WAAK, which was owned by the Gimbel Bros. Department Store. In April 1927, The Milwaukee Journal bought the radio station WKAF and built a new transmitter in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Then in June 1927, The Federal Radio Commission assigned the call letters WTMJ, to stand for The Milwaukee Journal.

On July 25, 1927, WTMJ Radio went on the air at 1020 AM to compliment The Milwaukee Journal. WTMJ's first broadcast featured music by the WTMJ Orchestra and included a remote broadcast featuring Bill Carlsen's orchestra. Carlsen was later hired by WTMJ and went on to become Wisconsin's most widely known radio and television weather forecaster.

In 1928, The Federal Radio Commission reassigned WTMJ to 620 AM. Some listeners began encountering interference from radio stations that shared frequencies in other parts of the country. Engineers solved the problem by developing directional radio signals, which are created by using multiple towers. This allowed stations on the same frequency to protect each other, while providing strong signals to their intended coverage areas. In 1932, it was WTMJ's protected status on 620 khz that led to the development of the very first modern AM directional antenna system, as WFLA-WSUN in Tampa went directional to protect Milwaukee's WTMJ. Directional signals for AM stations continue to be used to this day. WTMJ spent much of its life with a 5,000 watt signal, however when the 5 kW power limit on regional channels was lifted, WTMJ was the very first station in line for an upgrade. WTMJ won permission in 1995 to upgrade to 50 kW days, 10 kW nights from a new six-tower site, south of Milwaukee, at Union Grove, WI in Racine County. The station's signal is directed generally north during both for daytime and nighttime operation. All six towers are used at night, sending the signal in a fairly tight beam north; by day, the four-tower pattern aims mostly north, but the signal is still fairly strong as far south as Chicago's northern suburbs. WTMJ's former transmitter site (built in 1927) in Brookfield, Wisconsin is gone, replaced by a housing development.

WTMJ aired a full service MOR format for much of its life before switching to its current news and talk format. The station's previous format featured a mixture of news, music and talk shows. WTMJ has long had a heavy sports presence, and has been the flagship station for Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers games for most of the teams' histories. The station also serves as the Milwaukee affiliate for Wisconsin Badgers football and Wisconsin Badgers Basketball. During the early 1990s, WTMJ, like many other AM full-service stations, shifted solely to a news/talk format. WTMJ is one of the few major AM stations to feature mostly local hosts, including John Jagler, Gene Mueller, Charlie Sykes, Jeff Wagner, Jonathan Green and Bill "The Big Unit" Michaels. Other local voices heard on the station include Jeff Falconio, Dan O'Donnell, Dick Alpert and former game show host Jim Peck.

The station also airs some syndicated personalities such as Dennis Miller, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, along with the Wall Street Journal Report, although most syndicated programming is confined to late night hours. Consumer advocate Clark Howard's program airs for an hour on weekdays between Wagner and Green. Some of WTMJ's talk programming reflects conservative values, though humor, lifestyle and sports talk continue to retain a strong presence on the station. The station also continues its commitment to news and also partners with sister TV station WTMJ-TV for news and weather coverage.

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