The station, which is operated by Tulane University, offers a mix of cutting-edge, progressive, alternative, electronica, classical, New Age, straight ahead jazz, folk, blues Latin, world reggae, show tunes, kid's show and an eclectic mix of a variety of genres.
WTUL was established on March 14, 1959. It is the station which gave future mayor-turned TV news anchor-turned talk show host Jerry Springer his start. The yearly "Rock On Survival Marathon" fund raisers featuring live bands on the Tulane campus are a locally famous event. In spite of the low wattage, WTUL was occasionally picked up as far away as New York City in its early years due to the limited number of stations operating on the FM band.
"Mother in Law" singer Ernie K-Doe was a DJ at WTUL for many years.
WTUL went off the air on August 28, 2005 as Hurricane Katrina approached the New Orleans area. The Tulane campus building which housed the station (itself a temporary location due to the renovation of the University Center) was damaged by the resulting flood waters. On December 15, 2005 the station began broadcasting again, using donated studio space on the mezzanine of the Rue de la Course coffeehouse in the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, about 10 blocks from the Tulane campus. The station kept its Internet broadcast running via donated bandwidth from CCRMA at Stanford University. The station resumed a limited broadcast until it moved to Uptown Square on the corner of Broadway Street and Leake Avenue. It is now broadcasting on a normal 24-hour schedule from a new studio in the basement of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life on the Tulane campus. WTUL is volunteer-run, accepting DJs from across the Tulane and New Orleans community.
WTUL releases an edition of its compilation CD "Songs from the Basement" featuring local, national and international artists to coincide with its annual Marathon, WTUL's main fundraiser.