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C-SPAN Radio.svg
CityWashington, D.C.
Broadcast areaWashington, D.C.
Baltimore, Maryland
BrandingC-SPAN Radio
Frequency90.1 MHz (HD Radio)
First air dateOctober 28, 1960[1]
FormatPublic Affairs
HD2: C-SPAN1 simulcast (House and other)
HD3: C-SPAN2 simulcast (Senate and Book TV)
Power36,000 watts
HAAT173 meters
Facility ID68950
Transmitter coordinates38°57′44.0″N 77°1′36.0″W / 38.962222°N 77.026667°W / 38.962222; -77.026667
Callsign meaningCable-Satellite Public Affairs Network
Former callsignsWGTB-FM (1960–1980)
WDCU (1980–1997)
OwnerCable-Satellite Public Affairs Network
(National Cable Satellite Corporation)
WebcastWCSP-FM Webstream
WebsiteWCSP-FM Online

WCSP-FM, also known as C-SPAN Radio, is a radio station owned by the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN) in Washington, D.C. The station is licensed to C-SPAN's corporate owner, the National Cable Satellite Corporation, and broadcasts on 90.1 MHz 24 hours a day.[2] Its studios are located near Capitol Hill in C-SPAN’s headquarters.[3] In addition to WCSP-FM, C-SPAN Radio programming is also available online at and via satellite radio on SiriusXM channel 455.

WCSP-FM broadcasts in the HD (digital) format.[4][unreliable source?]


As WGTB and WDCU[edit]

The station was originally licensed to Georgetown University under the callsign WGTB, and was programmed by Georgetown students with a progressive rock format.[5] In 1979, the Georgetown administration decided that the station did not fit with the public image they desired for the university, and sold the station to the University of the District of Columbia for US$1.[5] UDC took ownership officially on March 12, 1980,[6] and WGTB became WDCU, with a jazz format.[7] During a budgetary crisis in mid-1997, the school sold WDCU for $13 million to C-SPAN, a non-profit funded by the cable television industry.[8] UDC had planned to sell the station to Christian radio conglomerate Salem Communications; however this deal was unsuccessful, leading to C-SPAN’s accepted purchase of WDCU.[3] Once the station was purchased, broadcasting of C-SPAN Radio on WCSP-FM began on October 9, 1997.[7]

As WCSP-FM[edit]

C-SPAN Radio expanded its coverage by signing programming agreements[9][10] in 1998 with two subscription-only satellite radio systems: CD Radio (later renamed Sirius Satellite Radio) and General Motors' XM Satellite Radio, bringing the station to a nationwide audience in 2001.[11][12] Temporarily for a year during the XM and Sirius merger in 2007 and 2008, it was not heard on Sirius, and it is not currently available on radios only compatible with the older Sirius system.[13] The station was added to XM Radio Canada on April 1, 2007.[14] The FM range of the radio station extends as far north as Hanover, Pennsylvania, south around 15 miles beyond Fredericksburg, Virginia, west to 5 miles east of Front Royal, Virginia and east to Cambridge, Maryland.[15] C-SPAN offers three channels of programming for listeners within the FM signal radius with HD radios, using digital technology to multicast all three channels at 90.1 FM. The three channels offer different programming: WCSP-FM's usual programming is broadcast on 90.1 HD-1; 90.1 HD-2 simulcasts C-SPAN, broadcasting coverage of the House of Representatives plus other C-SPAN programming; 90.1 HD-3 simulcasts C-SPAN2, broadcasting coverage of the Senate and audio of Book TV.[16]

As of July 28, 2010, C-SPAN Radio can be accessed via any phone at (202) 626-8888. C-SPAN's mobile app on iOS and Google Play allows access to all three of WCSP's HD streams (including C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 audio), in addition to C-SPAN3.[17]


C-SPAN Radio broadcasts public-affairs programming, including some audio simulcasts of C-SPAN's flagship television programs like Washington Journal and some radio-only programming such as the famous tape-recorded Oval Office conversations from the Johnson and Nixon administrations, oral histories, and some committee meetings and press conferences not shown on television due to programming commitments. The radio station does not try to duplicate C-SPAN television coverage, and takes a more selective approach to its broadcast content.[18] Regular programs broadcast on the radio station include Today in Washington and Prime Minister's Question Time.[19] The station also broadcasts full gavel-to-gavel coverage of political conventions in election years.

In the early period of C-SPAN Radio's existence, programming also included coverage of local events and government hearings affecting only the Washington region.[3] A unique part of WCSP's programming is its rebroadcast of five Sunday morning talk shows, without commercials, in rapid succession.[18] All programs on C-SPAN Radio are broadcast commercial-free.[11]

WCSP-FM is the first radio station to broadcast audiotape of historical U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments, with announcers explaining the court decision at the end of the recording.[11] The broadcasts of the Supreme Court arguments have provided listeners in the U.S. and Canada with the opportunity to hear spoken words during oral arguments for several of the Court's most influential cases, including the Texas v. Johnson argument over flag-burning in 1989, and the Miranda v. Arizona argument in 1966.[20][21] In September 2010 the Supreme Court began releasing audio recordings of the week's oral arguments each Friday, thereby allowing C-SPAN Radio to broadcast a selection of current arguments. Prior to this arrangement, recordings of oral arguments were occasionally made available on a same-day basis, which C-SPAN would request in cases of high public interest.[22][23]


  1. ^ "FCC History Card - Facility ID 68950" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ Fisher, Marc (21 October 1997). "C-SPAN for Drive Time; 'Washington Journal' Makes Radio Debut on WCSP". Washington Post. pp. D08. ProQuest 408349329.
  3. ^ a b c Hall, Thomas C. (24 October 1997). "C-SPAN radio won't be tied to the Hill". Washington Business Journal. 16 (24): 5.
  4. ^ Archived 2015-10-02 at the Wayback Machine HD Radio Guide for Washington D.C.
  5. ^ a b Eve Zibart (1 February 1979). "Georgetown Pulls the Plug on Its Campus Station". The Washington Post. p. B12.
  6. ^ Roger Piantadosi (13 March 1980). The Washington Post. p. D8. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ a b Kitson Flynn (13 October 1997). "C-SPAN Takes Over". The Washington Times. p. C13.
  8. ^ "C-SPAN steps in as buyer of WDCU in Washington". Current. 25 August 1997. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  9. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (19 October 1998). "Radio satcaster pacts for programs, changes name". Variety: 58.
  10. ^ "American Mobile Radio Selects Hughes and Alcatel". Audio Week. 30 March 1998.
  11. ^ a b c Patricia Meisol (12 January 1999). "The Motion Carries; With C-SPAN Radio, news is gavel-to-gavel even while traffic's bumper-to-bumper. And with the Clinton trial heating up the airwaves, its popularity may speed ahead". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1E.
  12. ^ Mark Spencer (10 November 1999). "C-SPAN might be heading to your radio". Chicago Daily Herald. section Neighbor, p. 4.
  13. ^ Charles Babington (19 March 2007). "Radio Deal Could Face Technical Difficulties; XM, Sirius Systems Already Strained". The Washington Post. p. D01.
  14. ^ "XM Canada Reaches 237,500 Subs; Adds New Channels". MarketNews Canada. 12 March 2007.
  15. ^ "Predicted coverage area for WCSP 90.1 FM, Washington, DC". Radio-Locator. Theodric Technologies. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  16. ^ "C-SPAN Radio". Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  17. ^ "C-SPAN Radio Expands Distribution" (PDF). C-SPAN. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  18. ^ a b Chris Kaltenbach (22 February 1998). "New station features processes of government; Radio: WCSP-FM (90.1) serves up large doses of public policy as it's happening, but more selectively than C-SPAN". The Baltimore Sun. p. 5E.
  19. ^ "C-SPAN Regular Programs". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  20. ^ Andrew Cohen (8 October 2010). "C-SPAN's Supreme Court Broadcasts: Do You Have the Right to Burn the Flag?". AOL. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  21. ^ Andrew Cohen (1 October 2010). "C-SPAN's Supreme Court Broadcasts: Voices and Views That Shaped the Law". AOL. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  22. ^ "C-SPAN Statement In Response to Today's Supreme Court Announcement on Oral Argument Audio Release" (PDF). 28 September 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  23. ^ John Eggerton (23 October 2008). "C-SPAN Seeks Oral Argument Tapes in Fox Swearing Case". Broadcasting & Cable. New Bay Media. Retrieved 9 December 2010.

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