780 AM, Norfolk
First Air Date: July 26,1922
Original Call Letters: WJAG
Date of FCC Issue: July, 1922
Issued To: Norfolk Daily News
Through the Years
The late Editor and Publisher of the Norfolk Daily News, Gene Huse became interested in radio and built the first radio receiver in his basement as a hobby.
In July of 1922, WJAG was granted its first federal license. The first WJAG studio was in the Norfolk Daily News Building. The first 3 1/2 years WJAG was operated largely without advertising revenue. Not until February of 1926 did WJAG accept any paid advertising dollars.
1922-1934 Karl Steffen was the first Chief Announcer and Noon Newscaster. Karl’s “Noon Program” over WJAG found a majority of Northeast Nebraska families at their radio set to hear the noon news, the markets, Cradle Roll and Hospital Reports. Mr. Stefan was a Nebraska Congressman from 1934 to 1951.
In the early years Mr. Huse and Karl Stefan arranged to furnish radios to shut-ins who at last found regular instant contact with the outside world.
Operated at 1060 KC from 1922-1940.
“Cradle Roll” a WJAG feature was introduced to greet local infants.
In the early days broadcasting at 780 AM was a country music format and could be heard as far away as California, Florida and Texas.
Norfolk Daily News publisher and owner of WJAG, Gene Huse hired Harry Burke as the station’s first full time manager.
Beginning in the ’30s, the WJAG studio was located on the mezzanine of the old Hotel Norfolk on the corner of 4th & Norfolk Ave.
Ted Bandelin replaced Harry Burke as manager, who left Norfolk to work at WOW, Omaha.
Lutheran Hour first broadcast.
Ted Bandelin departed WJAG and was replaced by a long-time acquaintance of Gene Huse, Art Thomas, who would oversee station operations for nearly 20 years.
The WJAG print ad for the children’s program. The letters stood for “With Joy And Gladness”.
During the drought and depression, WJAG acted as a clearing house for farmers with livestock feed and producer that had stock but no forage. Another list matched farmers who needed to move their stock to locations with sufficient fodder.
Norfolk Hatchery “Lucky Chick” was aired.
Operated at 1090kc from 1941-1942.
“Back to the Bible” was first broadcast.
The disastrous downtown flood of 1944 forced a station move to a building at 6th & Norfolk Avenue.
June 6, 1944- Petition to change frequency to 780 kc- still broadcasts at 780 am daytime.
“Voice of the People” was first broadcast.
One of WJAG’s most popular programs “The Mary Moore Show” was a daily show devoted to housewives.
1951 was the first WJAG state fair caravan traveling to Lincoln- 150 passengers on 4 buses.
Robert E. “BT” Thomas replaces Art Thomas as General Manager.
By 1952, over 2500 Cradle Roll cars a year were being sent to babies in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas.
WJAG moved into its present building at 309 West Braasch Avenue.
Gene Huse passed away and was succeeded by his son Eugene (Jerry) Huse.
In August of 1971, WJAG FM (106.7) went on the air.
WJAG-FM changed call letters to KEXL FM.
From 1980-1981, the present building had a total renovation.
KEXL FM went to a 24 hour operation.
In January 1985, Robb Thomas, the 3rd generation of the Thomas family became General Manager of both WJAG & KEXL.
October of 2007, former station sales manager Brad Hughes was named General Manager/Vice President. Sally Lewis named General Sales Manager.
WJAG-FM (105.9) began broadcasting, becoming one of the first 24 hour FM’s for a daytime only AM. And the state’s first fiber optic delivered stations.
In November 2009, KEXL moved from 106.7 to 97.5 and became LiteRock 97.5
December of 2009, KQKX/106 KIX took to the air as a 24 hour Country Music Station.
WJAG became an affiliate for the Kansas City baseball team.
Jeffrey Steffen named General Manager, replacing Bradley Hughes.