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Weta no background.png
City Washington, D.C.
Broadcast area Washington metropolitan area
Branding Classical WETA 90.9 FM
Frequency 90.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
Translator(s) See tables below
First air date 1970
Format Analog/HD1: Classical/NPR News
HD2: Classical Vocal Music ("VivaLaVoce")
ERP 75,000 watts (analog)
3,200 watts (digital)[1]
HAAT 186 meters (610 ft)
Class B
Facility ID 65669
Callsign meaning WETA: Washington Educational Telecommunications Association
Owner Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association
Webcast WETA Live Stream
Website www.weta.org/fm/

WETA (90.9 FM) is a non-commercial, public radio station licensed to serve Washington, DC broadcasting a classical music format. Its studios are located in Arlington, Virginia and its broadcast tower is located near Arlington at (38°53′30.0″N 77°07′54.0″W / 38.891667°N 77.131667°W / 38.891667; -77.131667).[2] The station covers the Washington metropolitan area with the highest effective radiated power of any FM station in the market with 75,000 watts, which exceeds the current limit set by the Federal Communications Commission for Class B FM radio stations.[3]

WETA programming is simulcast on WGMS 89.1 in Hagerstown, Maryland and on translator W205BL 88.9 in Frederick, Maryland.

WETA and WGMS broadcast using HD Radio.

Past formats and format changes[edit]

From 1970 through early 2005, WETA featured a mixed radio format of classical music, folk music, jazz, and news. It switched to a predominantly news and talk radio format from February 28, 2005 until January 22, 2007, when it switched to its current all-classical radio format. The switch was part of an unusual deal between the public radio station and commercial station WGMS (FM), which abandoned the classical music format it had aired for decades after an attempt to sell WGMS to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder failed. The FCC subsequently granted WETA permission to use the WGMS call letters for its Hagerstown, Maryland repeater station, formerly known as WETH.

Current format[edit]

WETA changed to a classical music format on January 22, 2007, at 8 p.m. EST, with classical music now offered for more of the broadcast day than ever before in the station’s history. Its current classical format is primarily mainstream orchestral, with a smattering of early and baroque music and chamber music. Aside from Saturday afternoon opera, very few vocal performances are aired on WETA.

As of April 2007 WETA reduced the number of hourly NPR newscasts, which had continued to be heard every hour since the change to the classical music format. Newscasts are now heard on the hour during drive time and at selected hours at other times. WETA also airs audio from the PBS NewsHour Monday through Friday evenings, for the benefit of area commuters unable to arrive home in time to view the program on television.

WETA airs opera programming on Saturday afternoons, including the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts during the Met's regular December–April broadcast season. They inherited from WGMS an all-vocal classical music format branded, "VivaLaVoce, the station that sings", on HD2.

WETA's only competition in the market area is WBJC (91.5 FM), also a non-commercial station, which broadcasts a classical music format and is licensed to serve Baltimore, Maryland.

Other services[edit]

For many years, WETA has provided a sub-carrier channel for The Metropolitan Washington Ear, Inc., which offers news for the blind and visually impaired. Listeners tune in to the service using special receivers provided free to qualifying individuals and can receive audio from more than 200 current publications, including newspapers, magazines, and bestselling books.


One full-power station is licensed to simulcast the programming of WETA:

Call sign Frequency City of license Facility ID ERP
m (ft)
Class Transmitter coordinates Call sign meaning
WGMS 89.1 FM (HD) Hagerstown, Maryland 25103 900 (analog)
36 (digital)[4]
408 m (1,339 ft) B1 39°41′47.3″N 77°30′49.0″W / 39.696472°N 77.513611°W / 39.696472; -77.513611 (WGMS) (NAD27) Washington's Good Music Station


WETA programming is broadcast on the following translator:

Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility
m (ft)
Class Transmitter coordinates FCC info
W205BL 88.9 Frederick, Maryland 90076 200 −16.2 m (−53 ft) D 39°25′5″N 77°24′11″W / 39.41806°N 77.40306°W / 39.41806; -77.40306 (W205BL) (NAD27) FCC


External links[edit]