Celebrating a century of making waves
April 6, 2022, marked 100 years of WILL-AM, the oldest component of Illinois Public Media and one of the first radio stations in the country. We commemorated the occasion with a special ceremony at Campbell Hall with some longtime Friends of WILL, partners from across campus, and current and former staff members. The day’s events included remarks from University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones and a special performance by the Marching Illini.
We also unveiled our WILL 100 artifacts exhibit in the lobby of Campbell Hall, displaying a collection of broadcast equipment from the last century. This exhibit is now open to the public and will remain up the remainder of our centennial year. We do hope you will enjoy this trip down memory lane with us as we revisit some of the technological advances, both here at WILL and within the world of broadcast and electrical engineering at large.
Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin and Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen also joined in our day of centennial celebrations by issuing a joint proclamation declaring April 6, 2022, “Illinois Public Media Day” in honor of WILL’s 100-year history and its profound impact on this community.
“WILL-AM has provided a very important voice in our community for 100 years. It brings national perspective with in-depth programming as well as a focus on local issues. As an elected official, I appreciate that WILL takes the time to understand and explain complex topics. And, as a long-time resident of Urbana, I know that when I tune into WILL-AM I will be educated, entertained, and challenged,” said Marlin. “I am grateful and proud that WILL-AM is at home on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
“Over the last 100 years, WILL has established its stations as a trusted source for news, as well as a spot for entertainment and education. We are lucky to have this gem within our community that among other things provides opportunities for youth to produce documentaries, adult reading mentors in the classroom, and important agricultural information and news,” said Feinen. “WILL is a part of the vibrancy of C-U and part of what makes our community special.”
In addition to the day's in person event, it was declared “Illinois Public Media Day” by Gov. JB Pritzker with a statewide proclamation. State Representative Carol Ammons also sponsored resolution HR0788 in the Illinois House of Representatives, which would declare April 6, 2022, “Illinois Public Media Day” in the State of Illinois, and State Senator Scott Bennett will have official recognition from the Illinois Senate.
From this station’s earliest days, a core part of our mission has been to share beautiful music and art with our community, starting with our very own chamber orchestra back in the 1930s, extending to what you know and love about our classical service today. A fanfare felt like a fitting addition to our 100th festivities, and Illinois Public Media was delighted to work with local composer Randall Reyman on the piece. He is Millikin University’s Director of Jazz and has an impressive resume of classical music and jazz performances.
In March we welcomed Reyman and a group of brass musicians – all of whom are University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois University faculty members – into our TV studio to record the premiere of the WILL 100 anniversary fanfare. We were delighted to be joined by a small group of some of our nearest and dearest friends to mark the occasion and bask in the beauty of a live performance together.
Musicians: Jenny Brown, assistant professor of trumpet at Eastern Illinois University; Charles Daval, professor of trumpet at Illinois; Bernhard Scully, associate professor of horn at Illinois; James Pugh, professor of jazz performance at Illinois (trombone); and Scott Tegge, adjunct lecturer of tuba and euphonium at Illinois.