WAXX 104.5-FM was born in 1953, under a different name on a different frequency, playing a different kind of music. The station signed-on as WCHF-AM in Chippewa Falls at 1150 on the AM radio dial. Right around this time, rock 'n roll was beginning to boom, and this station decided to capitalize on the trend by changing their call letter to WAXX, with the slogan of "Hot WAXX" (a play off of the term "stacks of wax" -- in other words, vinyl records -- DJs would use). WAXX-AM was quite involved in the new rock 'n roll scene, hosting "WAXX Land Dances" at Fornier's Ball Room. Among the guests at the dances were the Everly Brothers, and Buddy Holly & The Winter Dance Party.
WAXX-AM was bought by the Post Corporation in 1963, and moved in with a TV station and another radio station already owned by Post: WEAU-TV 13, and WEAU-FM 104.5. WEAU-FM would start simulcasting WAXX's signal (meaning one radio station could be heard on an AM & FM frequency), but since not many people listened to FM radio in the 60's, this was no big deal. This also meant that WAXX was broadcasting out of TV-13's building on Hastings Way in Eau Claire, and over the years would share news, weather and ag. personalities with TV-13.
What led WAXX to become a country station was the result of competition. In 1966, a rival station was said to be changing its format from rock/pop to country. WAXX wanted to make this change before their rival did, so someone from WAXX drove to Minneapolis, bought lots of country records and loaded the in the back of their car, and drove back -- seemingly overnight, WAXX had gone country -- and has stayed that way since '66.
Throughout the 70's, FM radio became increasingly popular, to the point that more and more people were listening to WAXX's simulcast on WEAU-FM 104.5. Since WAXX was the station identified as playing on that FM signal, it made sense to change WEAU-FM's call letters to WAXX. After all, those that listened to WEAU-FM kept hearing "WAXX" and thought that's what the station was. Thus, in 1976, WAXX-FM was "created." About the same time, WAXX-FM made the switch to stero, meaning the listeners of the Chippewa Valley could now get their country sounding even better that they could imagine.
Naturally, with the higher quality of FM radio, especially with stereo now available, more people simply tuned to the FM signal to listen to WAXX. Thus, in 1978, WAXX stopped simulcasting on the AM frequency of 1150 and become exclusively an FM station. Meanwhile, WAXX-AM, was changed to WAYY-AM, and started carrying a soft-rock music format. To this day, WAXX-FM and WAYY-AM (now airing news/talk programs) remain sister stations.
Other changes were made, including the discontinuation of Tradio, which left WAXX after it became an FM-only station. Also, to help out increase business in central Wisconsin, a new sales office was opened in Marshfield in 1982. Dick Solberg was brought in from WRDB in Reedsburg, and remains in that sales office to this day. You can even hear him on the air during WAXX's yearly broadcasts from the Central Wisconsin State Fair.
1984 brought the decision to sell-off the two radio stations from TV-13, and ground was broken on a new radio home in the lot behind the TV station. WAXX & WAYY moved in to their new digs in March, 1985, where they remain to this day. The radio stations were now owned by the new Central Communications, which remained owner until June 2003, when the stations (along with new sister stations WIAL-FM 94.1, WECL-FM 92.9, WDRK-FM 99.9 and WEAQ-AM 1150) were purchased by Westport, Connecticut-based Maverick Media.
The awards started to pile in, as WAXX 104.5 was names Radio Station Of The Year by the Country Music Association in 1988 & 1989, and the Marconi Station Of The Year in 1990. The morning team of Murphy & House (John Murphy & George House), who started together in 1985, won the CMA Air Personalities Of The Year award in 1993, followed 10 years later with George House & Tammy Phillips taking the same award in 2003. That same year, Farm Director Bob Bosold was named the National Farm Broadcaster Of The Year, and WAXX was noted at the Country Radio Broadcasters Humanitarian Station Of The Year.
July 1990 brought the first-ever Country Jam. It started out as a small festival on the open grounds below Fanny Hill on the southwest side of Eau Claire. Slowly but surely, the Jam has grown in size & stature, annually pulling in the biggest names in country. Just about every big name in country music has been to the Jam over the years, including stars like George Strait, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney & many more.
WAXX has also adjusted to the times, making an increased emphasis on music during the 1990's, along with a contemporary logo to replace the blue block-style logo in 1997. WAXX renewed that commitment in 2005 with the slogan "Today's County, Today's WAXX 104.5" and circular logo premiering in October of that year.
With the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, WAXX 104.5 helped get the community of the Chippewa Valley to show their care & support of the victims of that day. The following Sunday, September 16th, WAXX hosted Wisconsin Cares on the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Grounds in Chippewa Falls, with people wearing red, white & blue and spelling-out "USA."
There have been many personalities on the air on WAXX over the years, including such people & shows as Rex Lane, Rusty Rogers, Bert O'Brien, Murphy & House, George & Tammy, "The Old Schu" Jim Schumacher (on for 30 years through 1997) and "Music By Records and Voican By Boyson" featuring J. Peder Boyson. WAXX 104.5 is also noted as one of the top ag stations in the U.S., having featured such legendary ag reporters like Pat Keliher, Jerry Urdahl and Bob Bosold (the longest-running current air personality, having started at WAXX in 1977).