This article needs to be updated.(May 2021)
|Broadcast area||Greater Boston|
|Frequency||90.9MHz (HD Radio)|
|Affiliations|| NPR |
Public Radio International
|Owner|| Boston University |
(The Trustees of Boston University)
First air date
|March 1, 1950|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|Boston University Radio|
|HAAT||357.8 meters (1,174 feet)|
|Webcast||Listen live PLS MP3 Ogg Vorbis|
WBUR-FM (90.9 FM) is a public radio station located in Boston, Massachusetts, owned by Boston University. WBUR is the largestof three NPR member stations in Boston, along with WGBH and WUMB-FM. WBUR produces several nationally distributed programs, including On Point , Here and Now and Open Source , and previously produced Car Talk , Only a Game , and The Connection (which was cancelled on August 5, 2005). RadioBoston, launched in 2007, is WBUR's only purely local show. WBUR's positioning statement is "Boston's NPR News Station".
WBUR also carries its programming on two other stations serving Cape Cod and the Islands: WBUH (89.1 FM) in Brewster,and WBUA (92.7 FM) in Tisbury. The latter station, located on Martha's Vineyard, uses the frequency formerly occupied by WMVY. In 1998, WBUR helped launch WRNI in Providence, Rhode Island—the first NPR station within Rhode Island's borders. It has since sold the station to a local group.
According to Ken Mills, a Minneapolis broadcast consultant and Nielsen data, the number of listeners of WBUR has grown since 2012, increasing from 409,000 to 534,400. WBUR is the sixth-most popular NPR news station in the United States.
WBUR programs On Point, Only A Game and Here and Now are carried nationwide in the US on hundreds of public radio stations and on XM Radio's public radio station, XM Public Radio. In total, WBUR produces more than 25 hours of news and programming each week.
On Point is a two-hour discussion show formerly hosted by Tom Ashbrook, currently hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti and David Folkenflik, broadcast weekdays, with two hourly segments devoted to separate topics. Often one hour-long block will focus on a political issue and the other will focus on arts and culture. On Point began as 'special programming' in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, originally airing from 7 to 9 p.m. It took over the time slot of the similar The Connection when that show was cancelled in 2005.
Here and Now is a news and culture digest show hosted by Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young, normally consisting of several interview segments with reporters, authors, artists and statesmen. It began as a regional and local show but soon expanded to cover national and international issues. The show is syndicated nationally by more than 400 other NPR member stations.
Open Source is a weekly show hosted by Christopher Lydon, former New York Times journalist and original host of The Connection . The show focuses on the arts, literature, and foreign affairs.
In 2007, WBUR launched Radio Boston , a weekly radio show featuring longtime Boston journalist David Boeri. The show was later hosted by Jane Clayson Johnson as a one-hour discussion and interview, though Boeri still introduced each show with a report from the field. In 2010, Radio Boston expanded to broadcast Monday through Friday. In the fall of 2010, new host Meghna Chakrabarti went on maternity leave and was temporarily replaced by WBUR reporter Sacha Pfeiffer. Chakrabarti returned to co-host the show with Anthony Brooks until she was elevated to host On Point. In June 2019, the station announced that Tiziana Dearing, a longtime commentator and contributor at the station, would be the permanent host of the program.
Only A Game was a weekly sports program broadcast twice on Saturdays. The show was hosted by Bill Littlefield and was syndicated to about 210 affiliate stations by National Public Radio. The wide-ranging program described itself as "irreverent" and often covered sports from a human interest angle, rather than appealing directly to a particular fan base.
On Sunday evenings, WBUR-FM also broadcasts a show entitled Boston University's World of Ideas . The show features academics and intellectuals presenting lectures and answering questions on issues of national or global importance.
The 3-minute comedy sketch series 11 Central Ave, broadcast on WBEZ in Chicago, was for a time recorded at WBUR.
WBUR began producing podcasts in 2014. Current productions include Dear Sugar Radio, an advice podcast with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond; and Modern Love, a partnership with The New York Times .
WBUR first went on the air March 1, 1950, with studios and transmitter located on Exeter Street in Boston. Initially, most of WBUR's staff were Boston University students, with the station broadcasting primarily classical, jazz and BU sporting events. In the early 1960s, the station moved from Exeter Street to the newly renovated School of Communications building on Commonwealth Avenue. By the 1970s, WBUR began receiving funding from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and became a "public radio station" with a professional staff.BU students continued programming on a low-power AM transmitter serving the BU campus. The WBUR studios remain on the BU campus on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the station had several jazz music and classical music programs. The disc jockeys demonstrated a broad knowledge of composers, performers, and the execution of jazz, demonstrating familiarity with such matters as improvisation and shared this with listeners.' Noteworthy jazz and classical disc jockeys included Dennis Boyer (classical: FM in the PM), Steve Elman (jazz: Spaces), Tony Cennamo (jazz: New Morning and subsequently, a night-time show), James Isaacs (jazz), and Jose Masso (Latin: Con Salsa). One exception to this was the expansion of overnight programming, most notably the 2-to-6 Shift hosted By Kevin Vandenbroek and Bob King. It lasted about 9 months when it was cancelled by the Station Manager Bonnie Cronin. This act lead to the Director of Programming Victor S. Wheatman to resign.
At the end of the 1980s, WBUR began replacing many of its music programs with news and information programming from NPR, Public Radio International and the BBC. This brought WBUR into head-on competition with another major Boston-area NPR station, WGBH. WGBH eventually decided to retain a mostly music (classical music daytime/jazz nights) and cultural programming format (WBUR's former territory), although WGBH did broadcast NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered .
By the early 1990s, with the exception of Con Salsa on Saturday nights, WBUR had adopted an around-the-clock news and information format. Numerous NPR member stations have since followed WBUR's lead and eliminated music programming in favor of news and information programming (including rival WGBH, which transferred classical music programming to WCRB following its acquisition in 2009, though it continued to program jazz at night until July 2012; since then, WGBH has only aired a few hours of jazz on weekends). By 2009, the majority of NPR member stations were programming 24/7 news and information formats.[ citation needed ]
WBUR's main signal operates at only 8,600 watts, which on paper is somewhat modest for a full NPR member on the FM band. However, due to its transmitter's height (1,174 feet) it decently covers much of eastern Massachusetts, though it does not penetrate nearly as far to the south and north as WGBH-FM penetrates.
During the 1990s, WBUR began expanding onto Cape Cod. In 1992, it partnered with Cape Cod Regional Technical High School to air WBUR programming over its WCCT-FM when students were not on the air. The following year, WBUR reached similar arrangements with WSDH (91.5 FM) at Sandwich High School and WKKL (90.7 FM) at Cape Cod Community College. In 1997, auto dealer Ernie Boch Sr. donated WUOK (1240 AM) in West Yarmouth, which had been simulcasting WXTK, to Boston University, which changed its call letters to WBUR and made it a full-time satellite of WBUR-FM (which added the "-FM" suffix to accommodate the West Yarmouth station as A.M. stations always have the base callsign). WBUR programming was then dropped from WKKL in 1999, as the 1240 AM signal can be heard in much of WKKL's coverage area.
On November 27, 2012, WBUR announced that it would acquire WMVY (92.7 FM) in Tisbury (on Martha's Vineyard) to serve as an additional satellite,under the call letters of WBUA. The transaction was completed on February 8, 2013; at midnight that night, WBUA began to carry the WBUR schedule. WMVY's adult album alternative programming continued through an online stream and eventually they acquired a new FM facility on 88.7 and expanded it into the current incarnation of WMVY. The acquisition of WBUA rendered the 1240 AM facility redundant; on August 5, 2013, BU announced that it would be sold to Alex Langer, who would program it with Portuguese-language programming similar to that of another Langer station, WSRO. The call letters of 1240 AM were changed to WBAS on February 1, 2014, two days after BU and Langer agreed to a time brokerage agreement. Soon afterward, WSDH also dropped WBUR's programming. WBUR added another Cape Cod satellite on May 23, 2014 with the sign-on of WBUH in Brewster; this station broadcasts at a higher power than other noncommercial stations on Cape Cod, allowing it to serve the majority of the region (the exception is the Falmouth area, which is within WBUA's coverage area). BU had sought to build a station on Cape Cod since 2004 and applied for the 89.1 facility in Brewster in 2007, but in March 2011 the Federal Communications Commission issued the construction permit to Home Improvement Ministries, who subsequently sold the permit to BU.
In 1998, WBUR helped to found Rhode Island's NPR station WRNI. At the time Rhode Island was one of two states lacking an NPR station. WBUR decided to partner with the newly formed Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio to build a state-of-the-art facility at historic Union Station in downtown Providence. Initially, WBUR invested heavily in WRNI's local programming, but several of these programs were soon canceled, and its schedule became almost identical to that of WBUR. In 2004, WBUR announced suddenly that it planned to drop WRNI by selling it, raising a number of questions. Rhode Islanders were angry at the thought that they would be forced to buy a station they had invested greatly in creating. It was later revealed that the WBUR management believed WRNI was a financial drain and wished to get rid of it. The resulting management turmoil caused the departure of longtime WBUR station manager Jane Christo. Eventually, the Foundation for Ocean State Public Radio, renamed Rhode Island Public Radio, bought the station in 2008, it has since rebranded as The Public's Radio.
Between 2001 and June 2002, WBUR estimated that it lost between $1–2 milliondue to the loss of at least six underwriters and a number of small donors. This was the result of a boycott launched by Jewish groups who charged that NPR coverage of the Middle East was biased against Israel. Boston is a major center for the American Jewish community and this made Israel a particularly sensitive subject. The boycott started in October 2001, when two Boston-area businesses ended contracts: WordsWorth Books (now defunct) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cognex Corp. in nearby Natick, Massachusetts. The two businesses were reportedly tied with the advocacy group Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a persistent critic of NPR's coverage for almost a decade. CAMERA has demonstrated outside National Public Radio (NPR) stations in 33 cities in the United States.
The CAMERA boycott also extended to The New York Times and The Washington Post . Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and explicitly pro-Palestinian organizations have made contradictory accusations of pro-Israel bias in NPR's coverage or imbalance in particular stories. NPR's ombudsman and an independent reviewer appointed by the agency found "lack of completeness but strong factual accuracy and no systematic bias" in reporting on the controversial issue.
In mid-June 2020, WBUR laid off 29 employees, more than 10 percent of the station's staff, and ended the Only A Game syndicated program due to the ongoing COVID-19 recession. In an email to all staff members, the station announced a spending cut of 13 percent, elimination of wage increases, a hiring freeze, and a 10 percent pay cut for Margaret Low, the current chief executive.
|Call sign||Frequency||City of license||First air date|| ERP |
| Height |
|Class||Facility ID||Transmitter coordinates||Call sign meaning||Former call signs||Owner|
|WBUH||89.1 MHz||Brewster||May 23, 2014||21,000||94 m (308 ft)||B1||173933||derived from parent station WBUR-FM||—||Boston University|
|WBUA||92.7 MHz||Tisbury||June 1, 1981||3,000||96 m (315 ft)||A||7055||derived from parent station WBUR-FM||WMVY (1981–2013)||Boston University|
|Call sign||Frequency||City of license||First air date|| Power |
| ERP |
| Height |
|Class||Facility ID||Transmitter coordinates||Call sign meaning||Former call signs||Owner|
|WBAS||1240 kHz||West Yarmouth||October 2, 1940||1,000||—||—||C||6251||—|| WOCB (1940–1991)|
|Langer Broadcasting Group|
|WCCT-FM||90.3 MHz||Harwich||1989||—||160 (horizontal)|
|38 m (125 ft)||A||8574||Cape Cod Regional Technical High School||—||Cape Cod Regional Technical High School|
WUNC is the flagship National Public Radio member station for the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, broadcasting on the FM band at 91.5 MHz. Based in Chapel Hill and operated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it airs NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International, and BBC programming in an "all-news-and-information" format. On the weekends, the network broadcasts locally produced folk music programming; the longest-running continuously produced program offered by the station is Back Porch Music, a weekly folk and traditional music program.
Christopher Lydon is an American media personality and author. He was the original host of The Connection, produced by WBUR and syndicated to other NPR stations, and created Open Source, a weekly radio program on WBUR.
WMVY is a non-commercial community-oriented adult album alternative radio station based in the town of Tisbury, Massachusetts and licensed to serve Edgartown, both on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The station is owned by Friends of Mvyradio, Inc.
WCAI/90.1—Woods Hole, Massachusetts, WNAN/91.1—Nantucket, and WZAI/94.3—Brewster, are National Public Radio member radio stations serving the Cape Cod and Islands area of southeast Massachusetts. They broadcast primarily news and information programming and are owned by the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston. WCAI's studios are located at 3 Water Street in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and its transmission facilities are located in Tisbury, Massachusetts.
WTBU (640 kHz/89.3 MHz) is a "Part 15" student-managed and -operated radio station at Boston University. This means it is not licensed by the FCC but operates legally under special "low power" rules. It has a block-format programming schedule, with individual DJs able to play pretty much whatever they choose during their weekly airshifts. Overall the sound skews mostly rock/alternative, but can vary significantly, including pop, urban, rap, classic rock, Triple-A, trance, electro, industrial and metal or just true freeform.
On Point is a radio show produced by WBUR-FM in Boston and syndicated by American Public Media (APM). The show addresses a wide range of issues from news, politics, arts and culture, health, technology, environmental, and business topics, to many others.
WXTK is a commercial FM radio station licensed to West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and serving Cape Cod. It has a talk radio format and is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. The studios and offices are on Barnstable Road in Hyannis, while the transmitter is on Radio Lane in Yarmouth. WXTK is the direct descendant of Cape Cod's first commercial radio station, WOCB.
WNCK is radio station known as "89.5 Quahog Country".
WKKL is a radio station broadcasting a classic alternative format. Licensed to West Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States, the station serves the Cape Cod area. The station is owned by Cape Cod Community College. The station is used as part of the classroom setting for their Associate degree program in communications. The studios are located on the campus of Cape Cod Community College in the Makkay Broadcast Center. WKKL's format is college alternative, with a wide variety of diverse student programming. For many years, WKKL simulcast some hours of programming from Boston public radio station WBUR from 1992. That relationship ended in 1999, due to WBUR's 1997 acquisition of the 1240 AM frequency in West Yarmouth, the signal of which heavily overlaps with WKKL. WKKL is proud to broadcast its student-driven programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Tom Ashbrook is an American journalist and radio broadcaster. He was formerly the host of the nationally syndicated, public radio call-in program On Point, from which he was dismissed after an investigation concluded he had created a hostile work environment. Prior to working with On Point, he was a foreign correspondent in Asia, and foreign editor of The Boston Globe. He currently hosts a podcast, Tom Ashbrook-Conversations.
Rhode Island Public Radio, doing business as The Public's Radio, is the NPR member radio network for the state of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Its studios are in the historic Union Station in downtown Providence. The network airs a format of news and talk from NPR, APM, PRX and other sources, such as Morning Edition, On Point, KERA's Think and All Things Considered, as well as extensive local news coverage.
WELH is a radio station owned by The Wheeler School of Providence, Rhode Island. Originally signing on in January 1995 with a pop alternative format and a line up of student DJs, WWKX veterans including Kickin Al Snape, a young Robby Bridges and others as "WELH: Taking Music to New Heights". In 1996 the station moved to a modern rock format programmed by student DJs as "Extreme 88", and later jazz and oldies, eventually offering programming from various groups. From October 8, 2011 until September 30, 2021, WELH broadcast programming from Rhode Island Public Radio.
WPVD is a public radio station in Providence, Rhode Island. It is owned by Rhode Island Public Radio. The station simulcasts WNPN 89.3 FM.
WGBH is a public radio station located in Boston, Massachusetts. WGBH is a member station of National Public Radio (NPR) and affiliate of Public Radio International (PRI), which itself is owned by the WGBH Educational Foundation, and American Public Media (APM). The license-holder is WGBH Educational Foundation, which also owns company flagship WGBH-TV and WGBX-TV, along with WGBY-TV in Springfield.
WBLQ is a radio station licensed to serve Westerly, Rhode Island. The station is owned by Diponti Communications.
WCCT-FM is a radio station on 90.3 FM in Harwich, Massachusetts, United States. It is the radio station of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School and broadcasts from a transmitter site on the campus.
WBWL is an American radio station licensed to serve the community of Lynn, Massachusetts. Established in 1963, WBWL is owned by iHeartMedia and serves the Boston metropolitan area. The station broadcasts a country music format. The station's studios are located in Medford and the transmitter site is on Murray Hill, also in Medford.
Jeremy Hobson is an American national radio journalist. He had been the co-host of NPR and WBUR’s Here and Now. He co-hosted the show, along with Robin Young and Tonya Mosley. He left the show in October of 2020.
WBAS is an AM radio station licensed to West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and serving Cape Cod. It is owned by Bob Bittner and broadcasts an adult standards radio format. He also owns Adult Standards stations 740 WJIB Cambridge, Massachusetts, serving Boston, and 730 WJTO Bath, Maine, serving Portland.
WNPE is a public radio station, providing programming from The Public's Radio to southern Rhode Island from its transmitter at Narragansett Pier. It was the first FM transmitter in the network. Prior to operating noncommercially, the 102.7 facility was a commercial radio station from its sign-on in 1990 to 2007.