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WMBR is the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker student-run radio station, licensed to Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker and broadcasting on 88.1 FM. It is all-volunteer and funded by listener donations and MIT funds. Both students and community members can apply for positions, and like many college radio stations, WMBR offers diverse programming.

As of March 1, 2009, the co-General Managers are Josh Bails and Zoe Rogers, and the Program Director is Ahmed Hussain.

History

This is the third set of call letters for the station.

The first MIT student broadcasting station, WMIT, first signed on November 25, 1946. It was a "carrier current" AM transmitter located in the Ware entryway of Senior House dormitory and broadcast over power lines at 800, and later 640 kilocycles ("kilocycles per second" being the proper period term for the unit of frequency now called the "kilohertz"). Audible only within a few hundred feet of the dorms, under FCC Part 15 regulations it could and did broadcast commercials and was self-supporting.

In the mid-1950s, the possibility of an FM license was explored and it was discovered that the call letters WMIT were in use by a North Carolina station. WTBS (for "Technology Broadcasting Service") was chosen as the best alternative. New facilities were constructed in the basement of Walker Memorial, including a switching and mixing console designed by A. R. Kent and Barry Blesser, believed to be one of the very first all-transistorized consoles ever built. On April 10, 1961 WTBS-FM signed on with 14 watts of effective radiated power at 88.1 megahertz FM.

WTBS continued to operate the carrier-current system to the dormitories, with an identical program, except for commercial breaks, during which the noncommercial FM station filled time with public service announcements, and, later, parody "ads" for products such as "Apple Gunkies" and firms such as "Nocturnal Aviation". The all-request "Nite Owl" was a popular weekend feature, and a "Waveform of the Week" was broadcast for the enjoyment of MIT students watching the program on oscilloscopes.

In the late 1970s, Ted Turner, then operator of WTCG in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, wanted to use the call letters "WTBS" (for Turner Broadcasting System). Although call letters are not technically for sale, Turner and WTBS worked out a loophole whereby Turner gave a $25,000 donation to WTBS with an agreement that WTBS would apply for new call letters, with a second donation of $25,000 promised if the FCC were to subsequently grant the letters to Turner. All went as planned, WTBS used the donation for new transmitter equipment, and on November 10, 1979 the station signed on as WMBR with 200 watts of power. The call letters were chosen as an acronym for Walker Memorial Basement Radio. Listeners nostalgic for the old letters complained that WTBS had sold its birthright for an increase in power.

In October 2007, WTBS's owners, Time Warner, changed the calls of its station to WPCH-TVmarker, to reflect its new "Peachtree TV" branding. The WTBS calls were since picked up by a local Atlanta low-powered television station, WTBS-LPmarker.

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