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|Broadcast area||College Park, Maryland|
|Owner||University of Maryland|
|WMUC Digital (online)|
First air date
|WMUC (AM) ca 1948, WMUC-FM 10 Sep 1979|
Call sign meaning
|Maryland University Communications|
WMUC-FM (88.1 FM) is the student-run non-commercial radio station licensed to the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, broadcasting at 10 watts. It is a freeform radio station staffed entirely by UMD students and volunteers.
WMUC can be heard on 88.1 FM in parts of Washington, DC, Silver Spring, College Park, Hyattsville and many of the surrounding communities. It is also streamed on the internet at wmuc.umd.edu and through the WMUC Radio app.
WMUC had its first beginning in 1942 when student-run Old Line Network began daily broadcasts. Gilbert Cullen, with the help of George Reynolds, built the first University of Maryland campus radio station. Broadcasts were limited to the campus, transmitted by carrier current, so the station did not require an FCC license to operate. This became the fifth student-run campus station on the east coast. However, the station shut down January 1943 when most of its technical personnel were enlisted in the armed forces. The station re-launched in January using the call letters WMUC. The first WMUC broadcast aired October 11, 1948, but was shut down three days later due to transmission issues. The station relocated from the Speech Department to Silvester Hall in spring 1950, but in the fall, relocated again to a renovated shower stall in Calvert Hall where it remained until 1953. In 1953, WMUC moved to the old Journalism building (better known as Temporary Building FF) in a low-lying area of campus called "the gulch," where it stayed for over 20 years. Finally, the station relocated to the third floor of South Campus Dining Hall in fall 1974, where it currently resides.
WMUC received its FM license in 1979 after a two-year "FM or Bust" campaign, airing as a 10-watt FM station for the first time on September 10, 1979. It adopted the freeform format in 1982 so DJs could promote underground artists and music that is underrepresented by commercial radio. The WMUC-AM 650 remained Top-40 format.
WMUC (AM) gained credibility in the Washington, D.C. radio broadcasting job market, providing announcers and managerial talent to many local stations. Though primarily funded by student fees, it also generated revenue through advertising of local and national concerns. In this era, WMUC "acquired its first news network affiliation, saw Anne Edwards appointed as the first female station manager and, in 1965, was selected by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System to receive the 'All-American College Radio Station' Award", as recounted in the University's archives. In the mid 70s, programming broadened to include shows aimed at black and minority students and promoting feminism. Waning listenership and increasing maintenance of the campus-only carrier-current transmission system caused the shutdown of AM in 1999. In its place, the online service WMUC Digital was created.
In 2012, the University Libraries' establishment of the Digital Conversion and Media Reformatting Center (DCMR) facilitated the process of archiving and digitizing the station schedules, staff lists, policies, forms, flyers, zines, photos, awards, correspondence, reports, newspaper clippings, and manuals. The WMUC Collection is now a "permanent and growing part of the University Archives" and is available for public research. "Saving College Radio: WMUC Past, Present, and Future" was exhibited in Hornbake Library from September 2013 to July 2014.
WMUC-FM is true freeform radio, where the DJs themselves determine the programming of the station. An elected student Program Director assigns weekly time slots on the station to individual DJs, who are then responsible for programming, hosting, and promoting their respective shows. The schedule changes each semester, with the goal of offering a fresh perspective and diverse lineup of music and talk shows created by students at the University of Maryland.
In 2008, WMUC launched WMUC-2, a separate internet-only radio station which, like WMUC-FM, features freeform music and talk programming. Intended as a "proving ground" for new DJs, WMUC-2 also features programs which may not be appropriate for broadcast under FCC rules.
WMUC also has an active Sports department, which maintains its own website and internet stream at wmucsports.net. WMUC Sports features a regular schedule of talk radio shows as well as on-air play-by-play and color analysis of Maryland sporting events. Calling 10 different sports, WMUC Sports is the primary carrier of Maryland men's soccer, women's basketball, baseball, women's lacrosse, field hockey, and softball.
In the past, WMUC had an active News department, which was integrated with the former Radio Television and Film department at the University of Maryland. WMUC's news programming is now student run. The programming is divided into two segments: Weekly Roundup, the flagship news show featuring original reporting on top campus, national and DMV area news; and Drop the Pop, the featured talk show covering all things pop culture, politics, entertainment and more.
WMUC has a weekly live music program called Third Rail Radio (named after the electrically charged third rail of the DC Metro system), started in 1996 by Eric Speck. Third Rail Radio hosts many local and traveling independent bands and musicians. In 2004, the program produced a compilation CD of artists who have appeared on the program.
In addition to Third Rail Radio, there are many in-studio performances. In the past, these have included Louis Armstrong, Linda Ronstadt, The Kingston Trio, Don McLean, the Ramones, Duran Duran, and Elliott Smith. Recently, Beach House, Future Islands, Logic, Matt & Kim, King Tuff, Kurt Vile, Vivian Girls, Alvvays, Surfer Blood, and Mitski have performed at WMUC.
- Bonnie Bernstein, sportscaster
- John Davis, drummer of Q And Not U, singer in Georgie James and Title Tracks
- Mark Davis, radio talk show host, KSKY-AM Dallas-Ft. Worth, columnist, Dallas Morning News
- Connie Chung, TV news anchor
- Len Elmore, sportscaster and former Maryland and NBA basketball player
- Jeff Krulik, documentary Film Director (Heavy Metal Parking Lot)
- Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks comic strip and TV show
- Mark Robinson, indie rock musician and founder of TeenBeat Records and the band Unrest
- Peter Rosenberg, American radio disc jockey and television show host 
- Erin Smith, guitarist of Bratmobile
- "WMUC: News | WMUC Exhibit". University of Maryland Libraries. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
- "Saving College Radio". www.lib.umd.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
- Pearis, Bill (2020-05-26). "Mark Robinson (Unrest/Teen-Beat) tells us about what's he's been listening to during lockdown". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
- Richards, Chris. "Peter Rosenberg: From Montgomery County to top of the hip-hop heap". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
- Gentry, Brandon (2011-11-03). "Secret History: Cold Cold Hearts' S/T". DCist. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
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