In January of 2001, after waiting more than a year for the FCC to
open a filing window, Northern Thunder applied for a Low Power FM (LPFM)
radio station license. After another long wait, the
radio stationís construction permit was issued on October 29, 2003.
The station was allowed 18 months from that date to begin
During these 18 months, the needed startup capital of $15,000 was
raised by soliciting donations, hosting concerts and art auctions,
and even selling hotdogs. After finding a suitable location, the
station designed and built its offices and studio. After attaching
the antenna to the temporary makeshift tower and hooking up the
transmitter and emergency alert system, the volunteers crossed their
fingers and flipped the switch. Collectively volunteers put in
thousands of hours to get WHYS Radio to this point.
WHYS Radio went on the air in April of 2005. Volunteers drove all over town and called in signal reports. Initially there was poor reception in some parts of town. Shortly before the end of the year, the antenna tower was erected on top of the Kappus building, which greatly improved
our coverage area.
Since that time, WHYS Radio has continued to grow, offering more
varieties of music, more news and public affairs programming, and more
local hosts. Today, the station continues to amass more equipment,
music, and volunteers to reinforce the WHYS mission.
Northern Thunder started out as Eau Claire Area Ecology Action (ECAEA) and was formed at the
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) as a result of the first Earth Day Celebration on campus in spring 1970. Its first notable action was to test the waters of the Chippewa River from the bridges below the paper mill. As a result of these tests, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tested the waters of the Chippewa River from Eau Claire northward. In response to the tests, both the paper mill and the Jim Falls Dairy had to come up with their own waste water treatment facilities. Many cottages and homes along its shores also had to put in septic tanks rather than pouring their wastes into the water.
ECAEA's next major action was to start Eau Claire's first public recycling center at the Phoenix Steel Plant location, where the Eau Claire Farmer's Market Pavilion is located today. More and more people joined to work on all aspects of environmental issues, and the organization changed its name to Northern Thunder (NT) when its reach started to exceed the local Eau Claire area.
Since then, Northern Thunder has championed a number of environmental issues. In the past several years, they worked with Badger Safe Energy Alliance (BSEA) to promote safe and renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and to encourage energy-efficiency and conservation principles. The organization has worked statewide with a coalition of environmentalist, conservation groups, tribes, and sporting groups to defeat mining proposals such as the Crandon Mine, and a proposition to explore the Eau Claire County Forests for mining purposes. Northern Thunder has sought to educate the public about how mining companies have historically contaminated groundwater and destroyed land. They have also been active in peace issues, Central American and nuclear war issues, and organized support for treaty rights & spear fishing in northern Wisconsin in opposition to the racism against it.
In addition to educating the public and getting politicians to act on landfill issues, factory farm pollution, pesticides, air, water & soil pollution, farmers rights, healthy food, forestry, urban sprawl, and over-population, Northern Thunder has also been involved with getting WHYS Radio on the air. Through WHYS, they hope to develop another outlet for artistic expression in our community, and continue to promote progressive thinking towards the environment and the people who inhabit the Earth.