Last updated
WFMU logo.png
East Orange, New Jersey
United States
Broadcast area New York metropolitan area
Frequency 91.1 MHz
Format Freeform radio
OwnerAuricle Communications
First air date
Call sign meaning
WFMUpsala College
(former owner)
Technical information
Facility ID 3249
Class A
ERP 1,250 watts
HAAT 151 meters (495 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
40°47′19.00″N74°15′20.00″W / 40.7886111°N 74.2555556°W / 40.7886111; -74.2555556
Translator(s) 91.9 W220EJ (Weehawken)
Repeater(s) 90.1  WMFU (Mount Hope)
Webcast Listen Live
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

WFMU is a listener-supported, independent community radio station, licensed to East Orange, New Jersey. Since 1998 its studios and operating facilities have been headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey. It broadcasts locally at 91.1 Mhz FM, in the Hudson Valley, the Lower Catskills, western New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania from Mount Hope, New York at 90.1 WMFU, and to New York City and Rockland County at 91.9 FM. [1] It is the longest-running freeform radio station in the U.S. [2] The station's main terrestrial transmitter is located in West Orange, New Jersey.


Philosophy and influence

WFMU does not belong to any existing public broadcasting network, and nearly 100% of its programming originates at the radio station.

WFMU has a stated commitment to unstructured-format broadcasting. All programming is created by each individual air personality, and is not restricted by any type of station-wide playlist or rotation schedule. Experimentation, spontaneity and humor are among the station's most frequently noted distinguishing traits. Unlike most commercial broadcasting and non-commercial educational radio stations, WFMU does not offer regularly scheduled news, weather, traffic, sports, or financial information.

"WFMU is a place where the Singing Dogs are just as important as Elvis; a place where you will, in fact, hear Elvis, but in close proximity to ritual disinterment music from Sumatra, the soundtrack from Mothra , a theremin band called the Lothars, and the intergalactic jazz improvisations of the Sun Ra Arkestra," wrote Jaime Wolf in a 1999 New York Times station profile. [3]

WFMU was named "Best Radio Station in the Country" by Rolling Stone magazine for four consecutive years: 1991 to 1994. [4] and has also been dubbed the best radio station in either NYC or the US by The Village Voice , [5] New York Press , and CMJ , among others. The station also won three awards ("Best Specialty Programming", "Most Eclectic Programming", and "Music Director Most Likely To Never Sell Out") at the 2006 CMJ College Radio Awards. [6]

Notable history

In April 1958, WFMU commenced broadcasting as a radio station licensed to Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. Initially a student-staffed and faculty-administered college radio operation, by the 1980s most of the station's staff had no affiliation with the college, and the station's management, though hired by the college, had little involvement with the academic community.[ citation needed ]

In December 1983, Ken Freedman joined WFMU as a DJ and succeeded Bruce Longstreet as general manager in August 1985.[ citation needed ]

In 1989, WFMU successfully fended off a challenge to the station's license from four rival broadcasters, who claimed that WFMU was broadcasting above its legal power limit.[ citation needed ]

A 1990 telephone performance on WFMU by Daniel Johnston was the primary inspiration for filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig to create the documentary film, The Devil and Daniel Johnston . [7]

In late 1991, the late Jeff Buckley made his radio debut on WFMU and returned numerous times before signing with Columbia Records. [8]

In 1992, the non-profit organization Auricle Communications was founded, which purchased WFMU's license from Upsala in 1994 one year prior to the college's bankruptcy in 1995. [9]

In 1993 the station launched its website, and in 1997 it began streaming its broadcasts full-time. [10]

In 1995, shortly before Upsala's bankruptcy filing and closure on May 31, 1995, a group of station executives, personnel, and supporters formed Auricle Communications. It became a fully independent radio station when Auricle bought the license from the college.[ citation needed ]

In August 1998, listener donations funded a new studio and office in Jersey City. [11]

In May 2001, WFMU received worldwide attention when national and international media outlets covered DJ Glen Jones's successful attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest consecutive radio broadcast, staying on the air a full 100 hours, 42 seconds.[ citation needed ]

In 2005, WFMU expanded its online broadcasting efforts by offering 15 hours a week of Internet-only live programming, as well as an independent 24-hour-a-day webcast of Nachum Segal's Jewish Moments In The Morning program.[ citation needed ]

In January 2006, WFMU announced the availability of the station's live stream and archives to cellular phones and other mobile devices running the operating systems Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) and Palm OS.[ citation needed ]

In November 2007, WFMU became the first radio station in the world to offer live streaming to the Apple iPhone. [12]

From 2014 to 2015, a documentary on WFMU, Sex and Broadcasting: A Film About WFMU, screened at American film festivals and independent cinemas nationwide. [13]

See also

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  1. "About WFMU – WFMU-FM 91.1/Jersey City, NJ; 90.1/Hudson Valley, NY" . Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  2. "A Brief History of Free-form Radio", Lowest Common Denominator, Issue #21 (c. 1998)
  3. Wolf, Jaime, "No Hits, All the Time", The New York Times, April 11, 1999
  4. WFMU in Fund-Raising Drive., Pristin, Terry. The New York Times. March 13, 1996.
  5. WFMU: Land of the Freeform Radio | The Jersey City Independent
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2007-03-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Daniel Johnston and Yo La Tengo Collaborate on The Music Faucet, February 4, 1990", From the WFMU Archives, Beware of the Blog (April 05, 2006)
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-06-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. Wolf, Jaime (April 11, 1999). "No Hits All the Time". The New York Times . Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  10. Applebome, Peter (February 24, 2008). "Looking for Music, but Not 'Celebration,' to Remember Castro? Put the Radio On". The New York Times . Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  11. "WFMU". Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  12. WFMU streaming radio on iPhone, Boing Boing, 11/5/07
  13. FREEFORM OR DEATH, a documentary about WFMU by Tim K Smith — Kickstarter