City Aurora, Illinois
Broadcast area Fox Valley
Branding AM 1280 WBIG
Slogan The Big One
Frequency 1280 kHz
First air date December 13, 1938
Format Talk/home shopping/sports
Power 1,000 watts (daytime)
500 watts (nighttime)
Class B
Facility ID 5217
Transmitter coordinates 41°46′10.00″N 88°14′44.00″W / 41.7694444°N 88.2455556°W / 41.7694444; -88.2455556 (WBIG)
Callsign meaning The BIG One
Former callsigns WMRO (1938-1989)
WYSY (1989-1991)
Affiliations IRN-USA Radio News
Fox Sports Radio
Owner William H. Pollack
(Auril Broadcasting LLC)
Sister stations WRMN
Website wbig1280.com

WBIG (1280 AM; "The Big One") is a radio station broadcasting a mixed-format of talk, home shopping, and sports. Licensed to Aurora, Illinois, it serves the Fox Valley. The station is currently owned by Auril Broadcasting LLC


The station signed on December 13, 1938[1] as WMRO, a 500-watt daytimer owned by Martin O'Brien and operating at 1250 kHz; the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement moved the station to 1280 in 1941.[2] The station's programming was predominantly local, with a full service format being in place in the late 1940s.[2] Among WMRO's on-air staff during this time was a young John Drury.[2]

Vincent Cofey and Benjamin Oswalt purchased the station in 1957; three years later, the station was granted night authorization and implemented its current power levels.[2] A separately-programmed FM sister station at 107.9 (now WLEY-FM) was added on September 1, 1964.[2][3] Cofey and Oswalt sold WMRO to Dale Stevens in June 1969 to fund television station WLXT (channel 60; now occupied by WXFT-DT),[2] which had signed on May 18,[4] and to a lesser extent an upgrade to WMRO-FM, renamed WAUR.[2] WLXT shut down July 17, 1970;[4] two years later, Stevens purchased WAUR from Cofey and Oswalt.[2]

Beasley Broadcast Group bought WMRO and WAUR in 1986.[2] Beasley placed its focus on WAUR, which would eventually be relaunched as adult contemporary station WYSY-FM, and showed little interest in WMRO; this culminated in 1989 with the dismissal of the station's entire on-air staff and a callsign change to WYSY, reflecting its conversion to a simulcast of the FM station.[2] WYSY-FM subsequently moved its studios from Aurora to Chicago; at that time, Beasley opted to completely shut down the Aurora facility, which also housed the AM station's transmitter, and with little fanfare signed the station off.[2] The callsign was changed to the current WBIG in 1991;[5] two years later, Big Broadcasting Company, Inc. purchased the license from Beasley, and brought WBIG back on the air in November 1993.[2]


Much of WBIG's current daytime schedule is devoted to The Big Radio Shopping Show, a home shopping program that airs during much of the daytime hours. The station does air an interview program, The Big Wake Up Call hosted by Ryan Gatenby. Fox Sports Radio programming is aired during most of the nighttime hours; weekend programming is also largely provided by Fox Sports Radio, except for At Home with Gary Sullivan and The Big Radio Shopping Show on Saturday mornings and religious programming on Sunday mornings.

WBIG is the flagship station for Kane County Cougars baseball. It also carries Chicago White Sox baseball, Chicago Bears football, Chicago Bulls basketball, and local sports.

Proposed sale

An agreement was signed October 26, 2016 to sell WBIG, along with commonly-owned stations KSHP and WRMN to Pollack Broadcasting for $2 million. The sale was consummated on January 31, 2017.


  1. Broadcasting/Cable Yearbook 1989 (PDF). 1989. p. B-88. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 10, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "WMRO - Aurora, IL". Chicago Radio Timeline. Zecom Communications. Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  3. Broadcasting Yearbook 1967 (PDF). 1967. p. B-48. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  4. 1 2 Broadcasting Yearbook 1971 (PDF). 1971. p. A-19. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  5. "Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
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