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WORT 89.9FM Community Radio
BrandingCommunity Radio
Frequency89.9 FM
FormatCommunity radio (music/news/talk/variety)
ERP2,000 watts
HAAT286 meters
Facility ID3596
Callsign meaningWORT is the fragrant mix of many elements that retain individuality while coming together in the process that makes beer. In this way, diverse programming creates a cohesive whole entity to serve the community.
AffiliationsPacifica Radio
BBC World Service
OwnerBack Porch Radio Broadcasting, Inc.

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)
  • 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
  • Hmong Radio: News, announcements, interviews, and music in Hmong language
  • Her Turn: News by and about women, though all are encouraged to listen
  • 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, broadcasting at 89.7 FM. The frequency was later changed to 89.9 FM.

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.[1]

2018 studio shooting[edit]

Early in the morning of August 5, 2018, a masked suspect entered the station's studios and began shooting.[2] Five shots were fired at three hosts, with on-air personality Eugene Crisler’EL taking a shot in his right buttock; he was treated and released from the hospital quickly after the incident, and some minor studio damage occurred. The station remained in dead air for 6½ hours until Madison Police finished their evidence gathering procedures and allowed broadcasting to resume, and have said the incident was not random, but targeted at the station.[3][4][5]


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 American Public Media. 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.[6] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Michael Feldman | Whad'ya Know?". Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "Announcement Regarding 8/5/18 Shooting - WORT 89.9 FM". WORT 89.9 FM. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  3. ^ Brogan, Dylan (9 August 2018). "WORT DJs vow to continue show after shooting". Isthmus. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Masked man enters radio station studio and shoots DJ in Wisconsin". CNN. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  5. ^ "DJ shot by masked gunman inside Madison, Wisconsin radio station". Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  6. ^ "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