Dartmouth Broadcasting began in 1920s with the ambitions of a few Dartmouth College students that decided to give a new technology called radio a try. The first broadcast occurred over copper wires linked in all the dorms. The station used the call letters WDBS (Dartmouth Broadcasting System). The name changed to WDCR (Dartmouth College Radio) when it became an officially licensed station of the Federal Communications Commission and its first official broadcast at 1340 AM was in 1958. Dartmouth Broadcasting began officially operating WFRD (FM Radio at Dartmouth) 99.3 FM in 1976. For a comprehensive history of radio at Dartmouth, see Tim Brooks' book, "College Radio Days" (Glenville Press 2013, available at www.timbrooks.net).
The two stations have always been completely managed by students. The vast majority of the on-air personnel are students, although there are some exceptions (such as the football play-by-play announcers.) This is an unusual example of commercial college radio. The management of the stations is by the Directorate consisting of: General Manager, Finance Director, AM Program Director, FM Program Director, Technical Director, Marketing/Alumni Relations, FM Promotions Director, News Director, Sports Director, Internet Director, and Training Director.
WFRD is the FM portion of Dartmouth's radio program, also known as 99 Rock. 99 Rock broadcasts across the entire Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region (i.e., west-central New Hampshire), along with adjacent east-central Vermont. Though a classic rock format until the early 2000s, 99 Rock now runs modern rock music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, showcasing bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Pearl Jam, and Sublime.
Dartmouth Sports Network calls the play by play for several Dartmouth sports teams including: football, men and women's basketball, men and women's hockey, baseball, softball and recently lacrosse. Games are broadcast on WDCR or WFRD and are streamed over the internet.
Dartmouth Election Network works with Dartmouth Broadcast News to provide election coverage year round. Every four years, it offers special election-night coverage during the famous New Hampshire primary. In 1988, they made a legendary faux pas when they called the Primary for Dick Gephardt, based on stronger than expected early returns: Gephardt in fact lost to Michael S. Dukakis by 16 percentage points, 36% to 20%. However, the coverage is of high quality and is sometimes syndicated to conventional radio stations. Dartmouth Broadcasting also covers other major elections as well as the two major parties' quadrennial conventions.
Dartmouth Broadcast News has several news programs running on WDCR and WFRD. The news department works to provide listeners with timely updates of relevant news.
WDCR was the College's AM station and broadcast a wide variety of music, news, and sports. Having at different times been a talk, Top 40, and alternative rock station. Its signal usually only reached the immediate Hanover-Lebanon-White River Junction area. In October 2008, WDCR ceased over the air broadcasting, having established streaming over the internet. In September 2010, WDCR's license was returned to the F.C.C..
Dartmouth Broadcasting receives no direct funding from Dartmouth College, although its studios are located on campus, and it is officially owned by the college's Board of Trustees. All money for operating expenses comes from local and national advertisers. The FM transmitter is off-campus in the neighboring community of West Lebanon, New Hampshire.