By Cheryl Toomey, University Relations Graduate Assistant
Tune in to 88.1 FM and listen to a special mix of news, information, and music that can be heard on the radio or streamed live over your computer.
WUTC is Chattanooga’s National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, as well as an affiliate of Public Radio International (PRI), and American Public Media (APM). WUTC is the local source of some of the most popular radio news programing in the country, “Morning Edition,” “Day to Day,” and “All Things Considered.” It also broadcasts local programing such as “Around and About Chattanooga.”
“Public radio has become a place for those things that are untouched by commercialism. Things like quality news, which is rare, and music that is not otherwise heard in this market place. It’s a place for people to see that radio should be a quality source of information and music,” says John McCormack, WUTC station manager.
WUTC is the primary source of public radio in the Chattanooga region, which is beneficial not only to UTC, but to the community as a whole.
“If it wasn’t for the University, there wouldn’t be public radio in Chattanooga, so it’s a great community resource,” says Mike Miller, WUTC host and news/production coordinator.
Besides the informational offerings of NPR, WUTC also offers up a unique mix of music that is selected from singer-songwriters, jazz, blues, and adult alternative musical formats. “We play rock, electronic music, punk, blues, jazz, blue grass, classic country, Celtic music. It’s generally a mixture of established, well-known artists such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton and local musicians. We’re probably one of the only stations that has live musicians anymore. We pretty much play everything as long as it’s good,” says Miller.
WUTC emphasizes diversity in their music in order to satisfy their diverse listening audience. The station has been building its music collection for over twenty years, accumulating hundreds of CDs from various genres and time periods.
“The radio station has to sustain itself on listener gifts, so we play what listeners want to hear. It’s very organic and all inclusive. It would be easier to list what we don’t play than what we do,” says Richard Winham, host and producer of the “Afternoon Music” program. “I don’t think any one person likes everything that’s played, but I think people embrace the idea that if you don’t care for what’s playing now, wait until what’s next. Odds are something will come up that you really like.”
WUTC is a product of the generosity of its listeners, so monetary gifts from listeners allow the radio station to continue broadcasting quality programming.
“We have all the same costs of a commercial radio station, so we find our funding by asking the listeners who enjoy our service to make a gift,” says McCormack.
WUTC’s biannual fund drive begins on September 30 and typically runs for two to three weeks, until the station reaches its goal of $140,000.
“It pays for the programing, because NPR is very expensive, and it covers operating costs, things like the equipment and utilities, as well as the salaries of the staff,” explains Miller.
Listeners who donate $52 or higher become official WUTC members – members receive a membership rewards card, featuring discounts to local businesses and restaurants, and will also be a part of the WUTC mailing list. This year, WUTC is also sponsoring a drawing for a chance to win a trip to Hawaii for two.
“WUTC is really important so we can give our listeners information about UTC, whether it’s an interview with a professor, or announcing a play or an art exhibit or a lecture happening on campus. It’s a good way to promote the University both to people who live in Chattanooga and people who live elsewhere in the Southeast,” says Miller.
WUTC’s studios are located on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus in Cadek Hall. The radio station operates 24 hours a day, reaching from Knoxville, Tennessee to Murphy, North Carolina to Gadsden, Alabama. It is a service of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can be heard throughout the southeast at FM 88.1 and beyond at WUTC.org. Donations can be made through the radio station’s web site, wutc.org, or by calling 423-425-4756.