WUWM airs programming from NPR, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and also airs BBC World Service in the overnight hours, with much of the weekend entertainment programming scheduled purposefully to avoid duplication with Wisconsin Public Radio's WHAD (90.7). WUWM also airs considerable amounts of local programming and also fills airtime with adult album alternative music, including a weekly program hosted by longtime Milwaukee radio personality (and early WUWM staff member) Bob Reitman called It's Alright Ma, It's Only Music. Until December 2013, the station's HD Radio HD2 subchannel consisted of an automated AAA station known as The Deuce. The HD transmitter broke down in December 2013, and WUWM opted not to replace it due to lack of demand. According to station general manager Dave Edwards (who is also the chairman of the NPR board), the HD2 stream only attracted 200 listeners per week, not nearly enough to make it worth the effort to bring the HD transmitter back online. 
WUWM signed on the air in September 1964. Originally a student laboratory, it took on a more professional look with the formation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It was a charter member of NPR in 1971. However, its signal was spotty at best outside of Milwaukee's East Side. That changed in 1978, when WITI donated space on its tower, giving it a fairly decent signal throughout the Milwaukee area. Originally limited to 1,500 watts due to a glut of stations on the lower end of the FM dial in the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison axis, a change in FCC regulations allowed it to eventually increase its power to 15,500 watts, giving it a signal comparable to the other major stations in Milwaukee.