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About Us

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Credit Western Michigan University
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WMUK 102.1 FM is owned and operated by Western Michigan University and broadcasts at an effective radiated power of 50,000 watts across Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana. We are a non-profit public radio station and charter member of NPR . We are also affiliates of American Public Media (APM) and Public Radio International (PRI), as well as providing international programming from the BBC World Service and the CBC.

Our station is licensed to Western Michigan University’s Board of Trustees.  The majority of our funding comes from Western Michigan University, listener support, business underwriting, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

WMUK's mission is to share knowledge, explore ideas and tell compelling stories that engage listeners and communities across West Michigan and beyond. 

Our vision is to become the regional NPR station of choice for a growing community of public radio listeners and supporters.  

Learn more about the station’s funding and expenses, diversity initiatives, employment practices and governance at WMUK Open Records. Western Michigan University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

STATION HISTORY

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Credit S. Williams / WMUK
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WMUK 102.1 FM's broadcast tower.

WMUK began operation in 1951 as WMCR, at what was then known as Western Michigan College. The station was on the air only a few hours each day, broadcasting instructional programs and music with a power of 400 watts on a frequency of 91.1 MHz. This modest beginning gave WMUK the distinction of becoming Kalamazoo's first FM station.

In 1955, thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, WMCR raised its effective transmitter power to 36,000 watts and assumed its present place on the dial, 102.1 FM. WMCR became WMUK in 1961. The new call letters reflected a change in name for the college, which had become Western Michigan University four years earlier. In 1965, a grant from the Kalamazoo Foundation enabled the station to raise power to 39,000 watts and begin broadcasting in stereo, making it the first Kalamazoo station to provide this technological advance.

In 1971, WMUK banded together with other stations and the newly-formed CPB to form National Public Radio, a member-governed production network. Two years later, in 1973, the station moved its studios to the then-new Friedmann Hall, where they remain today. A grant from the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare allowed WMUK to raise its effective power to 50,000 watts, and to move its transmitter to Plainwell for more efficient delivery of its signal.

File photo of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Western Michigan University in 1963. Photo from Western Michigan University
Credit Western Michigan University
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Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Western Michigan University in 1963.

Until 1980, NPR's programs were distributed to stations by mail (for music tapes) and telephone lines (for news programs). But with the beginning of the new decade, NPR became the first radio network to use satellite delivery systems. The original analog satellite equipment provided a startling improvement in clarity, especially for programs like All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

In the 1990's, the analog delivery system was upgraded to digital technology requiring new satellite dishes and decoding equipment. WMUK acquired its own transmitter tower and site in March of 1994 through a donation from Fetzer Broadcasting Services.

The 2000s saw the a successful $1.2 million capital campaign to renovate facilities and create a state-of-the-art Takeda Performance Studio. The Station's internet streaming quality was significantly expanded. And in 2007, WMUK became the first station in Kalamazoo to broadcast a signal in HD (a digital signal embedded in the analog radio signal). This allowed the creation of a secondary HD-2 program stream.

In the 2010s, WMUK launched a new website and mobile app, supported by NPR Digital Services. The 102.1 FM transmitter was also upgraded to in 2011, with increased digital signal reach.

In 2020, after several years of developing a new strategic plan, mission and vision, WMUK reorganized its 102.1 FM programming to focus on news and conversation, and moved its classical programming to a newly launched Classical WMUK service on 89.9 FM and 102.1-HD2. This format change was supported largely by a gift from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

For more than 70 years, WMUK has continued to maintain our commitment to providing unique and award-winning news, information arts coverage and programming for our audiences across West Michigan and Northern Indiana. Our mission and vision remain as vibrant as ever.