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WORT 89.9FM Community Radio
City Madison, Wisconsin
Branding Community Radio
Frequency 89.9 MHz FM Radio (also on HD Radio)
First air date December 1, 1975[1]
Format Community Radio (news/talk/variety)
ERP 2,000 watts
HAAT 286 meters
Class B1
Facility ID 3596
Transmitter coordinates 43° 03' 3.00 " N
89° 29' 13.00" W
Callsign meaning World's Oldest Radio Transmitter
Affiliations Pacifica Radio
BBC World Service
Owner Back Porch Radio Broadcasting, Inc.
Webcast Live Stream
Website wortfm.org

WORT (89.9 FM) is a listener-sponsored community radio station, broadcasting from 118 S. Bedford St. in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. WORT offers a range of programming.

WORT's FM signal reaches a roughly 50-mile radius around Madison. In early 2006, the station began webcasting all of its programming in both high quality (96K) and low quality (32K) streams. WORT also maintains an archive of recent news and public affairs programs available for podcast, download, or stream.


The exterior of the WORT studio building.
John Kraniak at the controls during his show, "Entertainment", in WORT's main studio.

WORT broadcasts a mix of music and talk programming. All of WORT's music programs are produced by local DJs. WORT airs 33 hours of news and public affairs programming per week, 21.5 of which are locally produced. All of the programmers at the station are volunteers from the community, including DJs, hosts, producers, reporters, and engineers.

Music programming[edit]

The weekday music schedule includes:

  • Classical
  • Folk
  • Bluegrass
  • World
  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • Techno
  • Metal
  • Blues

The weekend music lineup includes a range of genres. Saturday's programming is divided into two-hour shows, including:

  • Traditional Mexican music
  • Classic R&B
  • Vintage jazz and swing
  • Reggae
  • Pan-African
  • Salsa
  • Latin jazz
  • Rock 'n' roll oldies
  • Blues
  • Hip-hop.

Sunday's music has more variety, including:

  • Medieval and Renaissance music
  • Women's music
  • Show tunes
  • World music
  • Kids' music
  • Gospel
  • Electronic
  • Experimental
  • Avant garde music.

News and public affairs programming[edit]

  • Insurgent Radio Kiosk: commentaries, "this day in history" notes, and community event info ("Action Calendar")
  • Eight O'Clock Buzz: mix of music, culture, information, news and interviews
  • A Public Affair: call-in show on issues of international, national and local importance
  • Democracy Now
  • Mel & Floyd
  • BBC News (taken from the BBC World Service)
  • Free Speech Radio News
  • In Our Backyard: Alternative local and state news
  • En Nuestro Patio: Local, national, and international news and interviews in Spanish.
  • Labor Radio: News for, by, and about working people
  • Access Hour: A different host from the community every week.
  • Radio Literature: Poetry, fiction, non-fiction readings and discussion
  • Queery: local and national news affecting Madison's LesBiGayTrans community
  • Perpetual Notion Machine: Science news and features
  • Health Writers: health care policy and advocacy for a grassroots health care movement
  • Hmong Radio: News, announcements, interviews, and music in Hmong language
  • Her Turn: News by and about women, though all are encouraged to listen
  • Third World View: News from the "Third World" from a left-critical perspective
  • Salamat: A weekly window into the vastly varied population of Arabs
  • Pachyderm Parade: The only by-kids, for-kids radio show in Madison
  • Universal Soul Explosion/After Hours: Hip-hop, R&B, old and new with music and commentary

Organizational structure[edit]

The organizational structure of WORT reflects the station's principles of democratic decision making; the paid and unpaid workers (the volunteers) at the station elect the Board of Directors; the Board sets policy and hires full-time and part-time paid staff. The full-time staff is organized as a collective that operates within sound management practices and written policies established by the Board. The staff collective oversees the day-to-day operations of the station.

Volunteers provide most of the on-air programming. In addition, many volunteers contribute to off-air operations.


WORT went on the air in 1975.

Radio host Michael Feldman became a volunteer in 1977, broadcasting "The Breakfast Special" from a diner on Madison's east side every morning for several years before joining Wisconsin Public Radio.[2]


WORT is a member of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and the Grassroots Radio Coalition. The station hosted the GRC-5 Conference in 2000 and GRC-11 in 2006.

WORT is an affiliate of the Pacifica network, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), and the Public Radio Satellite System, which is how it broadcasts programs like the BBC, supplied in the U.S. by Public Radio International. The station is also a member of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

WORT also has a standing rebroadcast agreement with Madison Indymedia.


WORT has been voted "Madison's Favorite Radio Station" in the Isthmus Annual Manual (readers' poll) sixteen times.[3] Several of its programs have made the top three list of favorite radio shows, including Mel & Floyd (multiple years), Back to the Country, and Pan-Africa.

WORT received two Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Merit Awards for its 2006 documentary on Uganda's "invisible children" and its 2005 documentary on the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. It won best documentary in 2005 from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated for its investigation of pollution at the Madison Kipp factory. It also received a WBA Merit Award for its 2005 election lead-up coverage.


  1. ^ "WORT’s History". Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Michael Feldman | Whad'ya Know?". Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Madison, Wisconsin: Isthmus Annual Manual : Madison City Guide". thedailypage. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°03′04″N 89°29′13″W / 43.051°N 89.487°W / 43.051; -89.487