A Brief History of WLUR
Journalism Professor Tom Riegel founds WLUR as a laboratory for teaching news writing and reporting. Some classical music is played as well. WLUR's studios, offices, and transmitter are built on the third floor of Reid Hall.
Richard E. Gooch '30 establishes an endowment for WLUR. Gooch, a former W&L journalism major who made his career in broadcasting, leaves the endowment in the form of an insurance policy. The Richard E. Gooch Endowment still funds a portion of WLUR's operations.
Throughout the 1970s, WLUR's programming expands to include jazz, rock, and other styles of music. By the mid-'70s, WLUR's effective radiated power (ERP) has also increased from 10 watts to approximately 175 watts. Journalism professor Bob de Maria becomes station manager in 1977, serving in this position until WLUR moves out of the department in 2001.
Throughout the decade, the station's music collection and the size of its staff continues to grow. By the mid-'80s, it has evolved into one of the largest extracurricular activities on campus. In the meantime, the broadcast journalism curriculum becomes more television-centered. As is the trend at many college radio stations during this time, the overall emphasis of WLUR shifts towards music.
By 1992, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications has discontinued the last remaining radio class. Although WLUR remains under the umbrella of the department, it becomes a strictly extracurricular activity.
In July 2001, direction of WLUR is transferred from the Journalism Department to the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. The WLUR studios are relocated from Reid Hall to the Early-Fielding Center, while a new transmitter site is erected at the Student Activities Pavilion. The station remains silent while construction takes place.
The station resumes regularly scheduled broadcasting in October 2002. For the first time in its history, WLUR is provided with a full-time general manager. Under Ben Losi '02, WLUR is completely restructured in regards to facilities, organization, and programming. Jeremy Franklin '04 takes over as station manager in June 2004 and remains in that post until August 2021; he also serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for W&L athletics during this time.
WLUR moves to a new facility in the John W. Elrod University Commons in October 2006. In January 2007, the station begins a 24-hour format with the addition of BBC news and NPR talk programming from Radio IQ, a service of WVTF public radio in Roanoke.
WLUR is transferred back to the Journalism Department. After 17 years of exemplary service, Jeremy Franklin retires from the station. Steve Cross is hired as the new GM. Newly updated equipment and facilities allows the station to be programmed locally. The music library is digitized and is now airing 24/7. Beginning in the Fall, students have new tools for experimentation and the creation of audio. As part of the Journalism Department, students are given the option of classes that include hands on experience with the radio station and podcast creation.
WLUR remains a vibrant presence over the air waves and on the Washington and Lee campus. During the academic year, the station features upwards of 100 volunteers hosting weekly music, sports, and talk programs.