Cambridge City native Martin R. Williams, formerly chief engineer for WFBM, began broadcasting Indianapolis’ first permanent commercial FM station on March 17, 1957. Choosing the call letters WFMS, Williams broadcast primarily classical and “popular concert” music from the Antlers Hotel at 750 North Meridian Street, operating at 95.5 FM. The station’s motto became “Music in a polite way.” In the late 1960s, Williams relocated his transmitter, studio, and offices to 2255 North Hawthorne Lane to escape downtown interference to his signal. After experiencing financial difficulties for several years, Williams sold WFMS to Susquehanna Radio Company of York, Pennsylvania in July 1972.

On February 2, 1973, a fire caused by faulty wiring gutted the studio’s interior and halted broadcasts for 57 hours. Seeking to capitalize on the fire, station promoters adopted the advertising line, “WFMS is carrying the torch for Indy.” Despite the efforts to increase listenership, WFMS, the third “beautiful music” station in Indianapolis, was not doing well financially. 

In 1976, the station changed to a country music format, which proved successful. The station’s Arbitron ratings moved from 1.4 in 1976 to 9.0 in 1980. WFMS moved to a new location at 8120 Knue Road in May 1981. By 1985, WFMS was the sole country format station in central Indiana. In spring 1993, WFMS-FM ranked first in overall listenership in Indianapolis radio with a 15.8 share. That summer, Susquehanna Broadcasting acquired WAJC, adopted new call letters WGRL, and changed to a “new hit country” format to complement WFMS programming.

In the 2000s, WFMS was far from the only country-format station in Indianapolis. However, riding several award wins from the Country Music Association, WFMS has continued to broadcast country music to the Indianapolis metro area from its 6810 Shadeland Avenue location, where it moved in 1998.

Revised June 2021

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