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In today's article we are going to delve into the fascinating world of WHO (AM). Whether you are an expert in the field or simply curious to learn more about it, this article will provide you with relevant and provocative information about WHO (AM). From its origin to its impact today, we will explore all angles of this exciting topic. Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery and learning that will leave you with a new perspective on WHO (AM).

Broadcast areaDes Moines metropolitan area
Frequency1040 kHz
BrandingNewsRadio 1040 WHO
First air date
April 10, 1924 (1924-04-10)
Former frequencies
  • 570 kHz (1924–1927)
  • 560 kHz (1927–1928)
  • 1000 kHz (1928–1941)
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID51331
Power50,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
Repeater(s)100.3 KDRB-HD2 (Des Moines)
Public license information
WebcastListen live (via iHeartRadio)

WHO (1040 kHz "Newsradio 1040") is a commercial AM radio station in Des Moines, Iowa, United States. The station is owned by iHeartMedia and carries a conservative news/talk radio format, with studios on Grand Avenue in Des Moines.

WHO broadcasts with 50,000 watts, the maximum power permitted for AM stations in the United States. It uses a non-directional antenna from a transmitter site on 148th Street South in Mitchellville, Iowa. WHO programming is also heard on the second HD Radio digital subchannel of co-owned KDRB (100.3 FM), and the station is Iowa's primary entry point station for the Emergency Alert System.

WHO dates back to the early days of broadcasting and is a Class A clear-channel station. The station is one of only two 50,000-watt AM radio stations in Iowa. The other is KXEL in Waterloo. However, WHO was originally a Class I-A, while KXEL was given Class I-B status, requiring a directional antenna at night, to avoid interfering with the other Class I-B station on 1540, ZNS-1 in Nassau, Bahamas. Due to WHO's high power and Iowa's flat land (with excellent soil conductivity), it has an unusually large daytime coverage area, equivalent to a full-power FM station. It provides at least secondary coverage to almost all of Iowa, as well as parts of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. At night, it can be heard at night across much of North America with a good radio, but is strongest in the Central United States.


Weekdays on WHO begin with a three-hour news and information program, The WHO Morning Show. Two local hosts have talk shows on weekdays, Jeff Angelo in late mornings and Simon Conway in afternoon drive time. The rest of the schedule is made up of nationally syndicated programs, mostly from co-owned Premiere Networks: The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, The Sean Hannity Show, Our American Stories with Lee Habeeb, Coast to Coast AM with George Noory and America in the Morning with John Trout.

Saturdays begin with a local show, Saturday Morning Live with Dave Bohl. Syndicated weekend programs include The Kim Komando Show, Armstrong & Getty, Sunday Nights with Bill Cunningham, The Weekend with Michael Brown, and The Ramsey Show with Dave Ramsey. Programs on investing, health, technology, pets and religion are also heard, some of which are paid brokered programming. Most hours begin with an update from Fox News Radio.


WHO has been the longtime flagship station of University of Iowa sports. Jim Zabel, who joined WHO in 1944, was the play-by-play voice for Hawkeyes football and basketball games from 1949 to 1996. That is when the University of Iowa licensed exclusive rights to do radio play-by-play to Learfield Sports, which picked Gary Dolphin as the play-by-play announcer for Hawkeyes men's and women's basketball.

State Fair

WHO broadcasts its local shows from the Iowa State Fair for the duration of that event.


Early years

WHO began broadcasting on April 10, 1924. The station was originally owned by Bankers Life, which is now the Principal Financial Group. Since January 1923 most radio stations in Iowa have been assigned call signs starting with "K", WHO is unusual in starting with "W", normally reserved for stations located east of the Mississippi River. WHO dates back to the early years of radio, when call signs were often only three letters long. Because its call letters were issued outside of the four-letter sequence normally employed by the time, there has been speculation that they might have been chosen to spell out "We Help Others" or the question "Who?". In fact, they were likely assigned sequentially by the government. For many years, WHO has used an owl as its mascot, a play on its call letters, pronounced like an owl's call.

Advertisement for consolidated WOC-WHO (1933)

The original studios were on the top floor of the Liberty Building in downtown Des Moines. After the FRC's General Order 40 reallocated frequencies in 1928, WHO was assigned to 1000 kHz on a time-sharing basis with WOC in Davenport.

In late 1929, the Central Broadcasting Company was formed with B. J. Palmer as chairman. This company purchased both WOC and WHO, which were then synchronized to simultaneously broadcast identical programs on their shared frequency, each using a 5 kilowatt transmitter. In April 1932, a 50 kilowatt transmitter, located near Mitchellville, Iowa and close to Des Moines, went into service, and the separate transmitters were replaced by this single transmitter, with the two stations now combined under a dual identity as WOC-WHO. (WOC was restored as a station separate from WHO in November 1934, when the Palmer School purchased station KICK in Carter Lake, Iowa, which was moved to Davenport, and its call sign changed to WOC.)

Through most of its early years, WHO was a network affiliate of the NBC Red Network, broadcasting comedies, dramas, game shows, soap operas, sports and big bands. WHO moved from 1000 AM to the current 1040 on March 29, 1941, as a result of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA).


In 1948, WHO-FM (100.3) signed on the air. Originally WHO-FM simulcast most of the programming heard on 1040 AM. In 1967, WHO-FM switched to classical music and beautiful music. The FM station has changed formats and call letters several times since then and now broadcasts as KDRB, "100.3 The Bus". In 1954, WHO-TV began broadcasting on channel 13. Because WHO radio was a long-time affiliate of NBC Radio, the TV station also affiliated with the NBC Television Network.

WHO was continuously owned by the Palmer family for more than 70 years, until Jacor Broadcasting purchased the station in 1997. Jacor merged with Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) a year later. WHO and the other Clear Channel radio stations in Des Moines (KDRB, KKDM, KLYF, and KXNO) continued to share a building with WHO-TV until moving into a new facility in 2005.


Herb Plambeck was a farm reporter for many years from 1936 to 1976. Talk-show host Steve Deace started his broadcast career at WHO.

Until his death in 2013, Jim Zabel remained with WHO as co-host (with Jon Miller of HawkeyeNation) of the Sound Off sports talk show that aired on Saturdays during Hawkeyes seasons, and as co-host of Two Guys Named Jim on Sunday nights with former Iowa State University football coach Jim Walden.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan working for WHO in the mid-1930s

Future United States President Ronald Reagan worked as a sportscaster with WHO from 1932 to 1937. Among his duties were re-creations of Chicago Cubs baseball games. Reagan received details over a teleprinter for each play and would speak as if he were live from the stadium, improvising details such as facial expressions of players or the color of the sky. This practice was common prior to television.

Around 1935, Reagan became a host on a WHO news show featuring commentary by H. R. Gross, who would later be elected to the United States House of Representatives for Iowa's 3rd congressional district in 1948. On that show, Reagan also interviewed such celebrities as Leslie Howard and Aimee Semple McPherson.


Works cited
  • Cannon, Lou (2003). Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-030-8.
  • Stein, Jeff (2004). Making Waves: The People and Places of Iowa Broadcasting. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: WDG Communications. ISBN 0-9718323-1-5.
  1. ^ a b "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, May 1, 1924, page 3.
  2. ^ "Revised list of broadcasting stations, by frequencies, effective 3 a. m., November 11, 1928, eastern standard time", Second Annual Report of the Federal Radio Commission for the Year Ended June 30, 1928, Together With Supplemental Report for the Period From July 1, 1928, to September 30, 1928, page 204.
  3. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WHO". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  4. ^ "WHO-AM 1040 kHz - Des Moines, IA".
  5. ^ "Newsradio 1040 WHO". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  6. ^ "Iowa Radio: Des Moines (WHO entry), Broadcasting Yearbook (1977 edition), page C-76.
  7. ^ "'K' Calls Are Western", The Wireless Age, April 1923, page 25.
  8. ^ "Telephone Broadcasting Stations for the United States" (WHO entry), Citizens Radio Callbook, Spring 1925, page 16.
  9. ^ "WOC-WHO" (advertisement), Broadcasting, April 1, 1933, page 21.
  10. ^ "Liberty Building, Des Moines". Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  11. ^ Education's Own Stations (Palmer School of Chiropractic section) by S. E. Frost, Jr., 1937, page 316.
  12. ^ "Herbert Plambeck (1908–2001) Papers, 1920-2001" (PDF). Iowa State University Special Collections Department. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  13. ^ Calmes, Jackie (November 3, 2015). "Steve Deace and the Power of Conservative Media". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  14. ^ Cannon 2003, pp. 40, 52
  15. ^ Cannon 2003, p. 43
  16. ^ Cannon 2003, p. 46
  17. ^ "Gross, Harold Royce". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. U.S. Congress. Retrieved November 28, 2023.

External links