Formerly WISH AM-FM, WIFE was purchased by Omaha radio owner Don Burden’s Star Stations in 1963. Operating at 1310 AM and 107.9 FM, WIFE changed Indianapolis radio with big-money contests, air personalities known as “WIFE Good Guys,” and a rock format aimed at younger listeners. 

The former WIFE radio station on the left side of the 1400 block of North Meridian Street, ca. 1995.
Credit: City of Indianapolis, Department of Metropolitan Development, Indiana Historical Society

However, the station may be best remembered for its battles with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC charged WIFE with manipulating ratings, running fraudulent contests, creating false billing, slanting newscasts, and giving free advertising to the campaign of then U.S. Senator Vance Hartke. The station was never granted a full three-year license and, in an unprecedented move, the FCC stripped Burden of all his licenses in 1975. The commission gave the WIFE-AM license to a local group led by Jerry Kunkel; WIFE-FM was ordered off the air the next year.

The AM’s new owners struggled as more of WIFE’s traditional audience moved to the FM dial. In 1981, the station was sold to Communicom, a group that tried an all-news format. Two years later, a Denver-based company, Chagrin Valley, took over. That company adopted the “Music of Your Life” nostalgia format and replaced the WIFE call letters with WMLF (later changed to WTUX). 

In 1984, the station became part of the group which owned WTLC-FM. Its owners in 1992 dropped the nostalgia format in favor of a format aimed at older African American listeners, and the station became WTLC-AM. By the late 1990s, WTLC-AM had adopted a contemporary, or urban, gospel theme, running under new branding as “The Light”. Despite a switch in ownership to Radio One a few years later, WTLC-AM kept this branding and musical style well into the 21st century.

Eight groups applied for the vacant WIFE-FM license, but it was 1984 before the FCC ruled in favor of a group headed by local businessman Dan Cantor. The new station, WTPI, short for We’re at the Top for Indianapolis because of its position at the top of the Indianapolis FM dial. WTPI went on the air in October of that year with a contemporary format. 

WTPI changed ownership twice in the 1980s and, and in 2005, it was acquired by Entercom. Entercom dropped the adult contemporary format in favor of adult hits. Since 2009, WNTR has been known for dropping its format abruptly without notice in favor of Christmas music—a broadcasting strategy known as “stunting” used to generate publicity and audience attention.

Cumulus Media entered an agreement with Entercom in 2019, which resulted in a swap of stations between the two companies. Cumulus acquired WNTR, WXNT, and WZPL in Indianapolis in exchange for WNSH in New York City and WHLL and WMAS in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Revised June 2021
 

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.