|First air date||1967 (FM); 1953 (carrier current)|
|Callsign meaning||"Parade Ground Units"|
|Owner||Illini Media Company|
WPGU 107.1 is a fully commercial student-run college radio station located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is operational 24-7, broadcasting alternative music and other programming throughout Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. It is owned by the Illini Media Company.
WPGU is named for the "Parade Ground Units", where the station was originally located. When the Parade Ground Units were demolished in the early 1960s to make room for the "six pack" dorms, WPGU moved into the basement of Weston Hall. It remained there until 1995, when the station moved off-campus to 52 E. Green Street. In 2006, WPGU along with the other Illini Media outlets (Daily Illini newspaper, Technograph engineering journal, Illio yearbook) moved to a new building at 512 E. Green Street, Champaign.
WPGU began as an experimental radio station by engineering students at the University of Illinois. It was not broadcast, but aired via carrier AM into the dorms. If a radio was plugged into an electrical outlet, WPGU showed up on 640 AM. After an initial technical problem, WPGU went "on the air" on December 7, 1953, for three hours. It played an hour of jazz, an hour of classical music and an hour of news. WPGU joined the then Illini Publishing Company in 1964 and procured an FCC license for FM broadcasting. FM broadcasting began on April 17, 1967. WPGU began broadcasting in stereo in 1972 (with student disc jockey Ted LeBlang at the controls at 6:00 p.m. on April 16, 1972), and the first song broadcast in stereo was "We Can Be Together (Unedited Version)" by Jefferson Airplane from their Volunteers album. In 1973 the station began broadcasting 24 hours a day.
Carrier AM broadcasts were continued by WDBS, a training station for budding WPGU on air personalities. When cable came to Champaign-Urbana, the company agreed to broadcast WDBS on FM 101 for dorm radios that had a special cable hookup. FM cablecasts began on October 8, 1982, and continued until 1992.
WPGU has had many slogans through the years. It was "Full Service Radio" in the early 1960s, "Progressive Rock" and "The Sound of the Seventies" in the 1970s and "Champaign-Urbana's Home of Rock and Roll", "The Rock of the '80's" and "The Radio Station" in the 1980s. The on-air personalities prided themselves in playing progressive rock, often left to their own devices to play anything from heavy metal to punk rock in the same day. WPGU-FM was once known, during the heyday of the alternative/grunge music genre in the 1990s, as "Champaign-Urbana's Modern Rock, 107.1, The Planet". It has since reverted to "WPGU". It has had various yearly slogans including: "Whether You Insist on the Twist or Strings are Your Things, WPGU for You" (1963), "The Radio Station" (1974), "No Pinhead Radio" (1988), "Twenty Five Years and Still Rockin" (1992), "Either You're Rock or You're Pop!" (1993), "No Rules Radio" (2004), "Your True Alternative" (2007), and "Champaign's Alternative" (2011).
Expansion to the web
In late 2007, WPGU joined with weekly entertainment magazine, the buzz, to create the217.com, a fusion of local and national music and entertainment news targeted at the Champaign-Urbana area. Both entities' websites were merged into one larger site containing articles, a searchable index containing every artist WPGU plays, a local events calendar, and a business directory.
In 2011, WPGU split with the217.com and moved its online presence to WPGU.com, where DJ blogs, music news, podcasts, and other content is created.
WPGU's hourly playlists are archived and available in real time, and the radio station is also streamed live online. Its program director, currently, is Kevin Sanji.
- Tom Merritt - went on to become a TV and podcast personality, working at CNET, TechTV, and TWiT.tv.
- Libbe HaLevy (formerly Loretta Lotman) - now Producer and Host of Nuclear Hotseat, weekly podcast on nuclear issues, after working at WGN, WGBH, Norman Lear's production companies, 20th Century Fox and the Fox Network.
- WPGU official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WPGU
- Radio-Locator information on WPGU
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WPGU