Posted in the Blue Island Forum
#1 Jan 11, 2011
I have heard that Blue Island Had a radio station many years ago. Anyone have any details?
#2 Jan 12, 2011
There's a gentleman who I know had a Ham radio station at one time. Not sure what that is though.
#3 Jan 14, 2011
No this was a FM station on the north side of Blue Island. One person told me it was around 123rd street and western ave.
#4 Jan 15, 2011
Interesting, glad you brought this to light... I never knew myself.
I could only gather probably as much as you could through google, but perhaps posting it here will jog someone's memory...
http://18.104.22.168/public/zec om/museum/Chiradhist/earlyFM.h tm
WRBI - Blue Island, IL
On Date: 11/14/1950
Off Date: 1/11/1953
Owner: South Suburban Broadcasting
This small station was licensed to the South Suburban Broadcasting Company with Felice Barbone listed as the station's President. It began operating in November, 1950 on 94.3mHz with 1,000 watts from 123rd and Western in Blue Island, a suburb adjacent to the south border of Chicago. It appears this station focused on popular music with news and local personality. It's signal was short-spaced between WAAF-FM and WENR-FM that would limit the station's reach to the near south suburbs and extreme southern portions of the city. The station would cease operation in January, 1953.
The owners of WRBI would continue to look for broadcast opportunities as one of the bidders when the FCC put the WXFM 105.9mHz license up for grabs in 1964.
Billboard magazine (find it in Google books) mentions disc jockeys Buddy (or Buddie) Kae and Ralph Kae a couple of times in connection with WRBI. They had a show called "The Two Kaes, Radio's Friendliest Disk Jockeys" that was also broadcast on WTAQ (AM 1300, now WRDZ) out of LaGrange. An anecdote published in a 1951 issue of Billboard mentioned that Ralph was 21 and loved Debbie Reynolds, if that gives one an idea of what type of music they played. By 1952, Ralph was in the Army and Buddy was Two Minus One.
Looking at old aerials, it appears that there *might* be an antenna at the SW edge of Hart Park (although I don't think it would have been called Hart Park then, not sure what the old name was), near Western where the parking lot is today.
Another radio history site mentioned there was a WBLI, which makes good sense (BLue Island)... but it's a one-off mention, so perhaps it never got on the air.
Obviously, this is pretty early history for FM. Must have been akin to satellite radio today. Thanks for digging this up and posting.
#5 Jan 15, 2011
I was wrong with my guess on the location.
WRBI FM was located at 12245 Western Ave. Building is gone, but would have been where Mr. Chop Suey is located today. Maps show the radio antenna was behind the station building. It's hard to make out the dimensions on the scan I was looking at, but it was either 233 or 333 feet tall.
Hope this helps!
#6 Jan 16, 2011
If someone can find a station, can you S.O.S? Cause we obviously need it.
#7 Jan 23, 2011
#8 Jan 23, 2011
The radio antenna was at the site of the current Tower Car Wash (hence the name).
#9 Mar 22, 2011
John Russel Ghrist in his book "Voices in the Valley" has a good history of WRBI(FM) in Blue Island. The station also broadcast local sports including stock car races from Raceway Park in Calumet Park and the Indianapolis 500 RAce. John Jage was an early voice on WRBI who went on to WJOB-AM in Hammond, Ind. The Blue Island Sun-Standard published program listings for WRBI.
#11 Apr 21, 2011
I have been told that my name came up about the operation of WRBI FM in Blue Island. The station was built in 1948 and I purchased it in 1949. The operators were dead broke. The tower was south of the Tower Car Wash. For the power of the station, one poster had it wrong. WRBI was heard a great distance because it was one of a few stations in the Chicago area. It was sandwiched between 2 more powerful stations but it served the area very good. I put every penny I had into the station, but some unknown judgements from the past owners popped up and we had to shut down.
Pressure in this problem came from a person who wanted the tower for his own use, The tower fell down years later in a storm.The Orland State bank had the mortgage and the person wanting the tower was on their board. This louse was Dr. Andrew who founded the Andrew Corporation. At that time Andrew was operating out of a store front on 87th street in Chicago. He had purchased a farm in Orland Park and he wanted the tower to test antennas. He just laughed when I was forced out and I remmber his word "sonny boy, don't trust anybody and the smiled" Years later he became a billionaire and was known for his philanthropy. But I remember him as a crook.I was in my early 20's at the time. I am writing a book about the whole ordeal including how the mafia ran the town and the then Mayor Hart was mixed in with them hot and heavy.
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