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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Broadcast areaWashington metropolitan area
Frequency89.3 MHz (HD Radio)
FormatJazz, News/Talk (Public)
AffiliationsPacifica Radio
OwnerPacifica Foundation
First air date
February 28, 1977 (47 years ago) (1977-02-28)
Call sign meaning
Pacifica Foundation Washington
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
Facility ID51255
ERP50,000 watts
HAAT125 meters (410 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
38°56′10″N 77°05′31″W / 38.936°N 77.092°W / 38.936; -77.092
Public license information
WebcastListen Live

WPFW (89.3 FM) is a talk and jazz music community radio station serving the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. It is owned by the Pacifica Foundation, and its studios are located on K Street Northwest. The station’s slogan is "Jazz and Justice."


WPFW launched at 8 p.m. on February 28, 1977,[2] with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train."[3] The fifth station in the San Francisco-based Pacific Network, WPFW was different from the other Pacific stations in that it was established as a Black-staffed and -formatted station with a mission to serve as a community radio station for the largely African-American population of Washington, D.C.[4]

The Pacifica Foundation began seeking an FM license in Washington, D.C., as early as 1968, but it was not until 1977 that WPFW won a temporary license.[3] From its launch, WPFW was aggressive in promoting progressive voices and opinions. The station was accused of violating the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to provide time to opposing opinions, and the conservative American Legal Foundation (ALF) worked to block the station's license renewal in 1981. After a two-year delay, the Federal Communications Commission rejected the ALF's request and renewed the station's license in 1983.[5]

Soon after it launched, the station began building out a studio facility in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood,[6] which served as its home until 1996 when the station moved to Adams Morgan.[7] In 2013, the building the station shared with the Washington City Paper was slated for demolition, necessitating another move.[8] After a controversial attempt to relocate the station to Silver Spring, Maryland, WPFW relocated to a temporary facility on L Street NW[9] before establishing new studios on K Street NW.[10]


Aside from syndicated Pacifica programs such as Democracy Now!, much of its programming is locally produced and dedicated to jazz, blues, classic soul music and international or world music.[11]

As a public station, WPFW is commercial-free and listener-sponsored.[12]


  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WPFW". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "Our History". wpfwfm.org. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lasar, Matthew (2006). Uneasy Listening: Pacifica Radio's Civil War. Cambridge, England: Black Apollo Press. pp. 128–131. ISBN 978-1-900355-45-2. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  4. ^ Barlow, William (1999). Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press. p. x. ISBN 978-1-56639-667-7. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  5. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (November 11, 1993). "WPFW's License". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. C7.
  6. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (March 21, 1986). "WPFW: 9 and Growing". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. B7.
  7. ^ Yorke, Jeffrey (May 28, 1996). "Out of the 'Blue'; Teen's New Twist on Old Tune Excites Country Listeners". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. B7.
  8. ^ Austermuhle, Martin (April 18, 2013). "City Paper, WPFW to Bid Farewell to Building That Housed Them For Two Decades". dcist. Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Fischer, Jonathan L. (April 30, 2013). "WPFW No Longer Moving to Silver Spring". Washington City Paper. Washington, D.C. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Laser, Matthew (April 7, 2015). "Updates: WPFW moves, Wizard Fests, rockathons, toilet radio explained". Radio Survivor. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  11. ^ "Schedule Grid". WPFW. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  12. ^ Milloy, Courtland (1987-03-29). "The Little Station that Could — and Did". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-02-22.

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