WONU is a FM Station broadcasting on 89.7 MHz in Kankakee, Illinois south of the Chicago metropolitan area. It is a non-profit, listener supported station owned and operated by Olivet Nazarene University from Bourbonnais, Illinois.
WONU first broadcast on the 89.7 frequency in January 1967. Before that time the station was on a closed loop and available only on campus. In 1988, the radio station saw an upgrade with the construction of the existing 421' tower structure on campus, and new transmitter with an upgrade to 35,000 watts (35 kW). This expanded the signal into south Chicago and northwest Indiana and during ideal weather conditions the signal can be heard well into Michigan. The WONU studio is located in an old Hardee's burger establishment.
In August 2010, station manager Justin Knight officially announced the expansion of WONU to a new station. WONU purchased the new station with though donations and listener support. It will be based out of Morris, IL and operate at 89.3 on FM. Through this purchase and the money raised for the expansion, WONU will be pursuing its expansion into HD Radio. HD Radio has been planned and explored for three years at the station, and over those years the equipment had been upgraded to support the new format.
The HD Radio feed will carry the regular Shine.FM broadcast, Shine Worship on HD2 and Shine Rock on HD3. This new station as well as their new HD Radio feed is scheduled to go live in the first quarter of 2011.
On December 28, 2010, WONU began a simulcast broadcast in Lowell, IN at 88.5 FM on WTMK-FM purchased from the Calvary Radio Network. WONU moved the 88.5 signal to Wanatah, IN April 7, 2015 in order to gain coverage in new areas for the station, especially Valparaiso, IN.
The expansion was planned in part because in 2008 many listeners reported static in the signal. It was found to be due to a new Chicago Public Radio station operating in Chesterton, Indiana on frequency 89.5 under the call sign WBEW. Due to the distance between Northwest Indiana and Bourbonnais as well as the close frequencies of 89.5 and 89.7, interference was degrading the already weakened WONU signal.
On July 28, 2011, WONU purchased WHZN at 88.3, New Whiteland, IN (Indianapolis market) from Horizon Christian Fellowship. A secondary studio is located at the First Church of the Nazarene on the east side of Indianapolis.
On December 1, 2014, WONU purchased translator W237BY at 95.3 FM in Mason, MI (Lansing market) from Educational Media Foundation. The translator is fed locally from WITL HD-2 at 100.7. A power increase on the translator took place May 13, 2015 giving full market coverage.
List of Station Managers
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- Bill DeWees (1991–2005)
- Justin Knight (2005-2013)
- Brian McIntyre Utter (2013-present)
WONU promotes and hosts Contemporary Christian concerts in the Kankakee area and on the Olivet Nazarene University campus. In addition to Christian music, WONU hosts types of performances such as Christian comedians.
Because WONU is owned by Olivet Nazarene University, it is sometimes used as a teaching station. The Bourbonnais studio contains a radio classroom with 20 computer stations configured specifically to teach radio. Olivet's communication department employs a full-time radio professor to teach the classes.