MR. JACK OWENS USES RAILROAD SETTLEMENT TO BUILD RADIO STATION
Mr. Jack Owens, railroader for the Clover Leaf, later Nickel Plate Railroad in Charleston was involved in a terrible railroad car switching accident. He was between cars when they moved unexpectedly. He was caught and lost an arm and would receive a sizable settlement from the railroad. He took much of the settlement and decided to build a radio station for Charleston. The building of the station occurred in 1953, and on Dec. 12, 1954, WEIC went on-air for the first time. Jack Owens was the sole owner of WEIC, with his wife Betty. They had a daughter, Sheila, who would later would be a teen disk jockey for the station. She married John Heath of Heath Candy Bar fame from Robinson, Illinois.
Jack built the station because he felt the eastern side of the county and Charleston, especially needed a radio station of its own.
Up to this point WLBH was the station of the county. Effingham and Paris would soon get stations as well. Radio was booming in the 50's. It seems that new stations are booming in the present day 90's as well. While Jack owned the station he specialized in public service to the community. His philosophy was to cover EIU news and activities, local fund-raisers, news and society items. Who else would be best for this responsibility than the Coles County Reporter, Louise Taylor.
JUNE, 1955-LOUISE JOINS WEIC
A newspaper clipping tells of the impending announcement that Louise Taylor would join the staff of WEIC June 15. She would have more responsibilities at the new station and was given the title of news director. In addition, she would sell advertising and write copy. WLBH had salesmen to take care of those duties and she only had to gather and read the news. I can remember that she had a desk in a large office room. Louise would have short news broadcasts during the day, and the longer morning longer "Talk of the Town" talk program which often included music. Louise used at least two theme songs over the years, including: the tunes "Louise" and "One Mint Julep".
WEIC BUILT IN OLD TAVERN BUILDING Go to page 174 to see the old building as a tavern/roadhouse.
The location of the WEIC studio and transmitter was land 1.6 miles west of Charleston on Route 316. In the old days the station had two towers and operated with 1,000 watts at 1270 kilocycles, only on day-time. The building was the converted Midway Tavern. Her advertising rate was $5.00 per minute. Louise would leave WEIC at least twice. Listeners would never know of the happenings in the studio and the station.
WEIC LATER SOLD SEVERAL TIMES
In 1961, WEIC was sold to William Kepper of Chicago. He would add WEIC-FM in 1965. In 1967, the FCC granted WEIC pre-sunrise sign-in. Also in 1964, the station was affiliated with the Mutual network.
In 1967, John Hurlburt of Mt. Carmel became owner of the station. He would remodel the station
and obtained permission to go on the air 24 hours per day in 1972.
CONTEMPORARY FORMAT FOR WEIC IN MID AND LATE 60'S (BECAME A WLS (ROCK-STYLE) TYPE STATION
The old fashioned philosophy of Jack Owens was gone forever at WEIC. Rock music was in. Later country came in. Satellite programming is in now. In 1975, James K. Withers became owner of the station. During the 1990's, WEIC-FM was sold to a Mattoon station and now is out of Mattoon. The AM was a national satellite talk station, but recently was turned into an "all gospel music station. WEIC has always tried to help Charleston. We wish the new operators luck in its future.
LOUISE LEAVES WEIC IN 1960
According to an article in the paper, a contract from J.R. Livesay and a letter from Quincy Doudna, Louise returned to WLBH in 1960. We don't know for sure about dates.WEIC history from an article in the Coles County History, 1876-1976, p. 253; and the memory of Louise Taylor, employee there through the early