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WNYU saturates the airwaves with what is fresh and vital in new (and classic-stats) music. Drop out and tune in: 89.1 FM New York, wnyu.org worldwide.
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WNYU started as the New York University Radio Club Workshop in 1949. The station broadcasted from studios in the basement of McCracken Hall at NYU’s then University Heights campus (now Bronx Community College) in the Bronx. The station used the call sign WNYU, but due to its carrier current signal, it was only accessible on campus. Meanwhile in the mid-1950’s, Bruce Morrow aka. Cousin Brucie, a student from NYU’s Communications Arts Group, started another carrier current station at NYU’s Washington Square Campus with the call sign, WCAG. While WNYU was started in NYU’s engineering school with a focus on training engineers to the technical responsibilities of radio, WCAG was founded by students studying journalism and communications.
In the early 1960’s the two stations merged to form the NYU radio network, WNYU. With a single telephone wire connecting each station, the students would alternate programming blocks between the studios in Manhattan and the Bronx. Currently, WNYU’s signal was only accessible on both NYU campuses, however, the students sought an FM signal.
With New York City’s airwaves crowded, the students of NYU finally found an open FM channel, 89.1fm. 89.1fm was (and is still) reserved for the United Nations, however, in 1964 the U.N. agreed to waive their rights. Since this was the last available FM channel in New York, the FCC held an open application for educational institutions. Two schools applied for the channel, New York University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Each application had errors or was late, so the FCC held several meetings over the next few years to determine which school would be awarded the coveted frequency. An intense rivalry developed between the two schools as to who would become the owner of the frequency. Finally, in 1969 a rare timeshare was agreed upon. WNYU-FM would possess 89.1fm Monday through Friday 4pm to 1am, while WFDU took the rest.
WNYU-FM made its first broadcast on May 3rd, 1973 from its University Heights studios. A few months later, on the brink of bankruptcy, NYU was forced to sell its University Heights campus. Even though the school, it’s students, and WNYU studios moved, WNYU’s antennaremains at the University Campus as of today.
In 1980, WNYU became one of the first New York stations to switch its format to new wave. The station would host legendary musicians like U2, The Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, Devo, Kurt Cobain, and many more who were starting out back then. Legend has it, some of MTV’s branding was based off WNYU promotional material. Many early VJs) like Martha Quinn, Tim Sommer, and others started out WNYU DJs. Flagship programs of WNYU like The New Afternoon Show, Hellhole, and Crucial Chaos also began in the 1980s.
WNYU began online streaming at wnyu.org in the late 1990’s. Well known DJ, Tim Sweeney), started his program, Beats in Space, on WNYU in 1999. The program has featured guests from James Murphy) to Jamie xx to Four Tet to others and still airs to this day on Tuesday nights. Through WNYU’s inception, the station’s management has been completely student-run. WNYU continues to air on 89.1fm from Monday-Friday 4pm to 1am, and on wnyu.org 24/7. Its current programming schedule is available online, and the station recruits students every semester.
You can listen to some of WNYU past interviews, live sessions, and historical recordings here.