The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh radio station WRST-FM is 49 years old today–April 20, 2015.
The station debuted at 6 p.m. on April 20, 1966 and was the first FM station in Oshkosh. It was conceived as learning laboratory for the new radio-TV-film curriculum at what was then Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh. \ In addition to its educational mission, the station’s programming was designed from the outset to provide a complimentary radio service to listeners in the Oshkosh area.
Originally at 88.1 on the FM dial and only operating at 10 watts, the outlet began with a schedule of four and a half hours each weekday evening and also offered weekend broadcasts of WSUO college baseball.
The station’s original home was the former office of the Fuller Goodman Lumber Company on Blackhawk Avenue with the transmitter and antenna located in the still-unfinished Gruenhagen Hall. In 1971, the station relocated to the new Arts and Communications Building on campus and in 1973 moved to 90.3 on the dial and increased its power to 960 watts in stereo.
Thee station continues to be an integral part of the UWO radio-TV-film curriculum and thousands of students have been involved at the station over the past 49 years; many have gone on to long careers in media, journalism or advertising.
UWO staff members have worked to keep the WRST operation up to date, and many improvements have been made over the years including live network programs (1973), 24-hour service (1982), connection to the public radio satellite (1990), affiliation with Wisconsin Public Radio (1993) and internet streaming (2005).
Throughout its history, the station’s commitment to both education and public service has remained unchanged. Some constants include alternative music formats, student-produced news coverage, student broadcasts of college sports and airing of selected national program offerings in public affairs, news, music, etc.
Plans are already underway for a special celebration to mark the station’s 50th anniversary in 2016.
Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today.