Leonard and Bernice Ellis, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Leonard and Bernice Ellis


Porter County was without a radio station until November, 1964, when WAYK went on the air. Leonard J. ("Uncle Len") and Bernice A. Ellis, applied for the 1500 spot on the radio dial in 1960, and after quite a technical and legal battle that continued for four years, the Ellises were granted a construction permit over several other groups who had applied.

Uncle Len, a country music radio veteran, began construction on eleven acres of the old Edward Domke farm, located on Sager Road, just south of Valparaiso, and the radio station -- two radio towers and the studio -- went on the air November 4, 1964.

In 1968 the Ellises received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to change WAYK's call letters to WAKE. The same year, WLJE-FM 105.5 went on the air. This added a fuller dimension to Wake and gave the community a full-time facility. The FM station was the first in northwest Indiana to broadcast in stereo and the first station to use a circular polarized antenna.

From the beginning Uncle Len and his radio stations have been award winners. One that Uncle Len is especially proud of is the Freedom Foundation Award, presented to the station after its first nine months.

Mr. and Mrs. Ellis realized that a formula of "giving to the community" was a successful one, and in order to please many tastes, WAKE was completely separated from its sister operation, WLJE. WAKE is totally easy listening, and WLJE spouts a "country-lovin'" format.

On November 23, 1971, the Ellises put their third station on the air, WAYT in Wabash, Indiana.

The Ellises have been in Porter County since 1957. Both are natives of Chicago. Mrs. Ellis attended Visitation High School, and Mr. Ellis attended Harrison High School. He studied at DePaul and Duquesne Universities and graduated from Columbia College. Uncle Len was with WJOB in Hammond from 1951 to 1960 as station manager, and then worked at WWCA in Gary.

Their first Porter County home was located in Chesterton at the junction of Route 149 and the Little Calumet River. The Ellises currently reside in the Sylvan Manor subdivision in Valparaiso. They have three children, Leigh (born in 1953), Neenah (born in 1954), and Marissa (the only "Hoosier", born in 1960).

The Ellis' services to the community don't stop with the radio stations. Mr. Ellis served as president of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in 1966-67 and on the board of directors from 1967-70. During his tenure as president, the chamber instituted several changes: the office was moved to a newer, more modern location: the Valparaiso Community Improvement Committee was established: and the still-continuing practice of presenting awards to the community was initiated.

Source: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County. 1976. A Biographical History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: American Revolution Bicentennial Committee of Porter County, Inc. 180 p.
Page(s) in Source: 104

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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