One of Joliet’s earliest FM radio stations began in the late 1950’s
It was the vision of Alfred J. Pohlers and his wife Mary Jane. Al was an engineer, electrician and also an inventor. In 1946, he earned a US Patent for a “garment conveyor,” to be used to transport clothes between floors in dry cleaning stores. He owned Pohler’s Machine Works on Ruby Street, which is where he met his future wife Mary Jane, while she was an employee.
Al loved radio and in the 1950’s started “Al Pohlers’ Memory Hour,” a Sunday afternoon radio show featuring local talent, which was co-hosted by Mary Jane. The program played on four AM radio stations in the area, and was originally broadcast from the machine works, before the show eventually relocated to their own station.
Pohlers applied for an FCC construction permit on November 18, 1959, which was approved on January 18, 1960. It began broadcasting on Easter morning, April 17, 1960. The new station held the call letters WAJP, which were Al’s initials. WAJP was headquartered across the street from the Machine Works on Vine Street and a 300 foot Blaw-Knox tower eventually rose to support the antenna system. The station was powered by a Gates FM-1, 1000 watt transmitter. In later years, WAJP increased their power to 3000 watts and covered the majority of Chicago’s south and west suburbs.
WAJP aired a beautiful music format, along with other specialty programming. They were well known for promoting patriotism and civic duty on the air. The station broadcast Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades, as well as Joliet City Council meetings, and was known for its Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve request shows.
Every afternoon, Al and Mary Jane would take to the airwaves from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for “Polka Time,” a program where callers could recognize loved ones’ birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and the like, and listeners could hear a combination of commendations and polka music.
Polka Time also featured local musicians and was well known in the community. WAJP also featured local voices such as Don Weber, Jim Berard, Tom Newberry, Don Hagen and Bob Baudek, among others.
After Al passed away in 1975, Mary Jane ended her on-air broadcasting career. But she did continue as owner of the station for another decade. Mary Jane passed away in 2016.
In 1985, the station was sold to New Horizons Communications. Shortly after the station was sold, its call sign was changed to WJTW and it adopted an adult contemporary format.