Not many radio stations in the U.S. have been on the air for 100 years, but La Crosse has one of them.
WIZM-AM has begun its second century of broadcasting, having signed on as WABN in January of 1923. The station at 1410 AM shortly changed its call letters to WKBH, and it was known by that name until 1971, when it became WIZM.
Dick Record came to WIZM from Madison as general manager at that time, and the station changed its programming.
“They had farm material on, they had hillbilly bands, they had classical music, all kinds of things,” Record said, “and we sort of pared that down to make it a pop station.”
From the 1950s to the early 70s, when it was owned by the Dahl family, WKBH was housed on 6th Street with its TV affiliate, WKBT.
Over the years, the station has had local stars such as Duane Moore, Bill Mann, Ken Allen, and Jack Martin. Record says Martin made a big impression, during 41 years on the air, starting in 1932.
“(Jack) was on every morning, and everybody listened to him and everybody believed him,” Record said. In his later years, Martin became known for playing Bozo the Clown on Channel 8.
One of the station’s best known deejays was Lindy Shannon, and he occasionally spoke with stars passing through La Crosse, interviewing Elvis Presley when the singer played at the Sawyer Auditorium in 1956.
WIZM-AM is now one of six stations in the La Crosse market operated by Mid-West Family, including Z93, WKTY, 95.7 the Rock, Classic Hits 94.7, and KQ98 country.