In the Beginning
WTJU was founded in 1955 when UVA’s Department of Speech and Drama decided they a UVA-based educational radio station. The fraternity Kappa Delta Pi put up a large part of the funds necessary to get the station off the ground. Two years later, WTJU had a small but dedicated group of 100 listeners and went on the air, broadcasting throughout Charlottesville.
Spring 1959 saw the station’s first ever music marathon, intentionally coinciding with UVA’s exam period to provide students music to study by. Four years later, in 1963, WTJU became a full-fledged student organization, separate from the UVA Department of Speech and Drama.
During its first 14 years, WTJU aired predominantly classical music, with occasional programs of jazz, folk, or rock. Starting in 1971, WTJU began broadcasting a number of rock shows and other genres, in addition to its robust classical programming. Two years later, Georgeann Herbert becomes the first woman to join WTJU’s board of directors.
Radio All Day, Every Day
By 1974, WTJU was broadcasting 24 hours a day. (Previously, it had aired 12-18 hours/day of live radio). In 1977, the station began transitioning from an all-student station to a student-community hybrid in order to allow the station to broadcast 24/7 all year long, even when school was not in session. In 1985, WTJU gains special status from the Dean of Students office, allowing community members to serve on the Board of Directors.
In 1993, the filing of an improper FCC document by a station volunteer prompted the Dean of Students office to hire a full-time manager: Chuck Taylor. In the same year, WTJU changed its frequency from 91.3 to 91.1. In 1996, UVA began supporting the station with annual funding from the University’s comprehensive fees — in addition to WTJU’s independent fundraising efforts.
Moving Up and Stretching Out
Planned construction at Peabody hall forced WTJU to relocate and in 2000, and WTJU moved into larger studios in Lambeth Commons. The station settled into its new home, complete with a production studio, live performance studio, air studio, large record library, and plenty of space for staff and volunteers to work. In 2005, WTJU brought its first computer into the air studio, and in 2010, WTJU began streaming its audio signal over the web. Longtime General Manager Chuck Taylor retired in 2010.
In spring 2010, radio veteran Burr Beard took the helm as General Manager, and he proposed sweeping programming and organizational changes to increase listenership and fundraising. Volunteer programmers and community supporters objected to Beard’s proposals, leading to public demonstrations and community forums about the future of the station. Beard resigned in October 2010, and the station recommitted itself to a vision of volunteer-driven community radio from the University of Virginia.
In 2011, Nathan Moore was hired and is the current General Manager of WTJU. During his tenure, Moore has overseen growth in WTJU’s fundraising, student involvement, and community engagement, including:
- 2013: WTJU built the all student-run webstreaming station WXTJ, which went on air at 100.1 FM in April 2016. Each year, 130+ UVA students fill WXTJ’s airwaves with freeform radio.
- 2014: WTJU began hosting summer youth radio camps, which have continued to host local elementary and middle school students each summer since. (UVA Today story from 2016)
- 2015: In partnership with IX Art Park, WTJU organized and hosted a series of free outdoor concerts that would become the Freefall Music & Art Festival
- 2017: WTJU launched Virginia Audio Collective, a creative podcasting community for UVA-based and community producers.
- 2019: WTJU built and moved to new studios at 2244 Ivy Road, complete with two air studios, two production studios, an intimate, 35-seat perfromance venue, and greater public visibility. (UVA Today story from 2019)
As the 2020s unfold, WTJU continues to extend UVA’s educational mission and bring people together through excellent music and conversation.