WULM "Radio Maria" 1600-AM (for "Under (Our) Lady's Mantle") is an American non-commercial AM radio station licensed in Springfield, Ohio serving the Springfield and Dayton area with Catholic insprational programming . It operates at 1600 kHz with a power output of 1,000 watts daytime and with a reduced power of 34 watts nighttime. It is a repeater of KJMJ 580 kHz in Alexandria, Louisiana,the originating English language station of Radio Maria USA.
The station used the call letters WBLY from 1954 to 2002. It was owned and operated by Champion City Broadcasting which in the mid 1980s moved its studios to the restored (original) city building located downtown along with WAZU-FM prior to being sold off in the 1990s leaving WBLY without an FM. Bob Yontz sold the remaining AM station to son Ronald- hence Champion City Broadcasting became RAY (Ronald A. Yontz) Broadcasting operated by Jerry Staggs as part of a local marketing agreement with WIZE which he briefly owned and moving the WBLY studios to the WIZE site until 2002 when it was sold to Urban Light Ministries, a local non-denominational Christian charity in April 2002 which adopted the WULM call letters in August of that same year. Urban Light's purchase of the station kept it a locally owned and operated community citizen and was intended to help provide operating funds and a medium for the local ministry to reach out to pre-believers and to families in need. WULM remained the last locally owned/operated commercial radio station licensed by the FCC to Springfield still operating with studios and offices in Springfield until May 31 2008.
John Hall(Stalder), a long time Springfield radio broadcast legend was the first station manager of WULM from 2002 to 2003. After Hall's passing in 2004 ,the on-air studio originally used by WIZE was renovated in 2005 and dedicated in his memory by his longtime friend Bob Pitsch who was station manager from 2003 to 2006. Hall was best known as the long time morning personality at WIZE and later a personality at WKSW,WLW,WGRR,WBNS (AM) and the former WCLR/WZLR "Oldies 95" in addition to doing voice-over work for the former WTJC-TV (now WBDT) and for numerous radio commercials and announcements in the Dayton-Springfield area.
WBLY switched the format to a news/sports/talk format in the early 1990s. WBLY did mostly Catholic Central games until WIZE went under and then began airing all teams in Clark County. It was famous for not only having 1 game but in football and basketball it aired one game live and one game on tape delay. It also did Wittenberg football and basketball games along with a show during the week. It also had a high school sports talk show during the week and a popular show on Saturday morning called "Sports Scene". During the tournament it would air all local teams' games, and sometimes there would be so many teams playing that they would go until 2:00 am. They also had great news coverage, and the news director was Darrel Bauer, who is now at WHIO.
In 2002 WBLY was sold to Urban Light Ministries. After they changed the call letter to WULM they continued to have a news/sports/talk format but added more programming including a local morning talk show and a late-morning talk show that talked about the issues in Clark County. After that sports director Marty Bannister continued his "Sports Scene" show that he aired during the week and had done before when it was WBLY. They also added more network programming, including Bill O'Reilley.
Unable to attract new listeners (and advertisers) with a talk format, WULM went to a unique "Rock n' Soul Classics" format. It spotlighted the vintage hits from the first generation of the Top 40 and R&B genres. During this time, its weekend programs along with NASCAR coverage included The Motown Show, Dennis Mitchell's Breakfast With The Beatles, Oldies Coast To Coast, Little Walter's Time Machine, Glenn Sauter's Hits of Yesteryear and Cool Bobby B's Doo Wop Stop. That format ran from the summer of 2003 to the spring of 2006.
On-air personalities included Marco Simmons, Dale Grimm (also Sales Manager),Joe Madigan (then a student intern from John Carroll University and its campus FM station WJCU) and Bob Roberts (Bob Pitsch, General Manager).
They then switched to "Springfield's Sunshine Station" with a format of "The Fun Hits of the late 60s 70's and early 80s"; which played Top 40 hits of those decades from April of 2006 until February of 2007 when they changed the slogan to "Springfield's Community Station", keeping the 60's/70's music format until September of 2007.
1600 WULM (as "Springfield's Community Station" from 2007 to 2008) aired Chrstian-oriented News/Talk from the USA Radio Network. They carried nearly all of their entire talk programming schedule as well as their news and sports updates.
Besides the USA Radio Network WULM continued providing great local sports coverage. It aired a sports program on Saturday morning from 9:00-10:30, which is hosted by long time WULM sports personalities Dave Williams, (The Coach) Jim Scoby, and John Derr. The "Saturday Morning Sports Show" (formally The Springfield Sports Show) had local high school sports talk along with Ohio State and Wittenberg talk in college sports. In professional, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals are covered in the NFL and the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds are covered in the MLB. The program also featured interviews with local sports personalities (most recently James Laurnitis of the Buckeyes). During Ohio State football they aired an Ohio State football show live on Thursday nights from Joe's 40 US Highway Grille in Springfield as well as carrying all the Buckeye games through The Ohio State Football Radio Network. WULM also carried Ohio State basketball through the Ohio State Basketball Radio Network. They also, of course (as they have for over 15 years), WULM featured live play-by-play coverage of local high school sports with Williams doing the play-by-play calling and Scoby covering the commentator duties.
WULM had a history of sending their sports department people a long way. Former sports director Marty Bannister is now a sideline reporter on the Ohio State Football Radio Network and is also the voice of Ohio State Women's basketball. Scott Leo, a former play-by-play man and talk show host for four years at WULM, is now the voice of the Columbus Clippers and does play-by-play high school football for WONE/WIZE in the fall. He also covers Wittenberg football, basketball, and baseball for Wittenberg's student station. WULM also had local programming. One such program was Urban Light Ministries president Rev. Eli Williams' mid-morning (10:00) talk program "Crossing Over" dealing with local people and issues from a Christian and local community perspective. Rev. Williams is also the host of "Urban Light Radio" a contemporary gospel music program which aired on WULM during Sunday morning programming.It still can be heard on Saturdays on Cedarville University's WCDR-FM and on its "CDR Radio" network of repeaters and translators as well as its online stream.
WULM also served the community with Speak Out a locally produced community forum/on air town meeting on Saturday mornings after The Saturday Morning Sports Show for 10:30 to 12:00 which invited listeners input to local issues. The show, hosted and moderated by Larry Spicer has had guests such as political figures such as Steve Austria and Ross Megregor and countless others as well as people from local events ranging from the Enon Apple Butter Festival to Shawnee's High School Band Festival to the Farmer's Market at the Heritage Center.
Station's studios and offices are located on Miracle Mile in Springfield, at the transmitter site and former studios of WIZE (now simulcasting the programming of WONE in Dayton; which itself is now a relay for WCKY in Cincinnati). Its transmitter is located on Miller Road off State Route 41 West which is also the transmitting site of WDHT-FM..originally the site of the former WBLY-AM and WAZU-FM, which was the former WBLY-FM, when both stations were owned by Champion City Broadcasting.
According to a Springfield News-Sun story dated March 10 2008,the station was purchased by Radio Maria,an Italian-based Catholic radio network which owns and operates KJMJ,it's originating USA English language station in Alexandria, Louisiana. The sale and transfer of license of WULM was filed on February 15 2008 and was later approved on April 16 2008 by the FCC. The switchover to Radio Maria programming took place at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on Saturday May 31 2008. The WULM signal not only reaches the Dayton, Springfield and Miami Valley area, but reaches east towards Columbus, south towards Wilmington and Middletown,north towards Urbana and Bellefontaine and west towards Richmond, Indiana during daylight hours. An audiostream also can be accessed from its website for its listeners during evening hours and outside its signal area.
Radio Maria was founded at first with humble beginnings as a small parish operated station in Como, Italy in 1983 before its subsequent international growth in the 1990s which gave birth to the World Family in 1998. Emanuele Ferrario is Radio Maria's founder and president.
Spanish language programming geared to the local Hispanic community is aired on Saturday mornings from 11:30 am until 1pm local time.
A fundraising "Mariathon" moderated by Father Stenzel is scheduled for October 14,15 and 16 of 2008 to procure additional operating funds for WULM,its sister stations and audiostream. The World Family of Radio Maria's mission is to venture forward to start additional stations worldwide and no longer provides supplimental funding for KJMJ,its repeaters and other USA operations...hence the need for additional local support.
Mary Pyper is local station coordinator, Alicia Risko is volunteer coordinator, Jim Meyer is remote broadcast technician and John Koenig is local station manager.
The WBLY calls are currently used by a low-power FM station in Sycamore, Georgia.
The WJEL calls are currently used by a high school FM station in Indianapolis, Indiana