Michigan Radio History

WUOM, 91.7 FM first signed on the air in July, 1948. One of the first educational institutions in the country to apply for an FM license, the station went on the air on July 5, and has been in continuous operation ever since. At the time, FM radio was extremely new. It was estimated that there were only about fifty FM stations, and only eight other educational FM stations, in operation across the country... with approximately 500,000 FM receiving sets in use in the entire United States.

With a full time staff of five people, including Director of Broadcasting Waldo Abbott, the station began broadcasting from temporary studios in Angell Hall on the University of Michigan campus. Students used the space for classes from 8:00am until 2:00pm, and WUOM then went on the air from 2:30pm until 8:00pm. The station was off the air most Saturdays and broadcast for only two hours on Sundays.

Much has changed since then. Michigan Radio now consists of three stations (WUOM – 91.7 FM, WVGR – 104.1 FM, and WFUM – 91.1 FM), and broadcasts public radio news and information programming 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to an audience of approximately 500,000 listeners across southern Michigan. Even so, Michigan Radio still fulfills the original purpose of the University's broadcasting service, to provide "... stimuli for a broader knowledge, fuller understanding, and deeper appreciation of the humanities, of the sciences, and of social, economic and civic problems".

We hope you'll enjoy this look at 60 years of public radio at the University of Michigan. 

View the history of Michigan Radio on Wikipedia

Culture
8:00 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Michigan Radio! Celebrating 65 years of public service broadcasting

Celebrating 65 years of broadcasting.
Credit Michigan Radio

Sixty-five years ago today, WUOM aired its first broadcast from temporary studios in Angell Hall on the campus of the University of Michigan.

U of M was one of the first educational institutions to apply for an FM license. The station's first broadcast went on out on the brand new, high fidelity FM band at 91.7. It has been broadcasting on this signal ever since. Today, the station broadcasts on two more signals (WVGR 104.1 FM in Grand Rapids, and WFUM 91.1 FM in Flint).

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Michigan Radio History
11:29 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Audio: remembering the station's early years

  • Charity Nebbe talks to three people who remember the station's early years.
  • Vince Duffy takes a look at WUOM's role in creating public broadcasting as we know it.
Michigan Radio History
11:25 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Michigan Radio History: Photos Then and Now

Front of LSA Building

History Photos

Michigan Radio History
11:00 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Michigan Radio History Timeline

1948: WUOM goes on the air July 5, 1948 from studios in Angell Hall on the University of Michigan campus, broadcasting 20 hours per week, monaural, at 44,000 watts. Among the early programs were Prof. Preston Slosson's commentary on the news, Prof. Warren Good's "Record Collector", and "Hymns of Faith". The policy of originating play-by-play broadcasts of University football games for pick-up by a network of Michigan stations was established.

1949: WUOM moves into new studios and offices of the Administration Building occupying the entire fifth floor, becoming one of the most elaborate educational broadcasting plants in existence. The station originates its' first broadcast of Michigan football, with play-by-play from station sports director Bill Fleming. The first broadcast of Handel's Messiah was made from Hill Auditorium.
View the WUOM program schedule from September, 1949 (PDF)

1950: Official dedication of WUOM. The station joins National Association of Educational Broadcasters and exchanges taped programs with other educational stations throughout the country.
View information from the station dedication (PDF)

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