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History of WICN


WICN public radio has been a vibrant cultural presence in central New England for 50 years.  In April 1968 WICN registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the call letters standing for Worcester Intercollegiate College Network with its original home at the College of the Holy Cross in a joint partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).  WICN 90.5 FM began broadcasting at Holy Cross at the start of 1969. Since its debut on-air in 1969, WICN has been presenting the best-curated programs to its listeners.

We have a rich heritage of locally-producing shows over the years that have included blues, classical, folk, bluegrass, jazz, rock new age, cultural music, public affairs and community focus shows,

Since the late 90's WICN's core programming has focused primarily on jazz, a true American art form. We take the responsibility of being the last jazz radio station in New England seriously,. As we look back over the last 50 years, here are some of the highlights.

1970: WICN broadcasts its first classical show - Montage.

1973: WICN WICN moves from its Holy Cross studio to 75 Grove Street, today (2018) that location is under new construction for future apartments for WPI students and the growing  collegiate population in Worcester who now welcomes over 36,000 college students into the city each year.

1977: WICN publishes its first program guide, The Gamut

1980: WICN formalizes its NPR affiliation

1982: WICN broadcasts the first Brown Bag concert from Mechanics Hall, a partnership that still continues today. These free lunchtime concerts have become a community staple that have featured some renowned artists over the years while entertaining hundreds at each event.

1982: WICN wins national award for the best classical recording of the year and Spin Magazine awards WICN the "Best Musical Selection of the Year".

1984: WICn begins a collaboration with Music Worcester to present the Mass Jazz Festival

1986: Spin Magazine names WICN best rock station in the country

1987: WiCN moves its studios to 6 Chatham Street and receives national accreditation by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This location was an old YMCA facility and WICN utilized the old pool for lp record storage..

1987: WICN begins a partnership with Audio Journal, serving as a sub-carrier to broadcast Audio Journal's programs for visually impaired persons

1991: WICN presents Jazz at Sunset in collaboration with the New England Science Center (Ecotarium), this partnership continued for 30 years

1997: WICN begins broadcasting 24 hours a day

1999: WICN becomes "New England's Jazz & Folk Station" with core programming focused on jazz and folk music

2000: WICN begins broadcasting to the world via Webcasting and NPR names WICN its "Jazz Station of the Month"

2003: WICN is rated as one of the top Webcasting radio stations in the world according to Warp Radio, WICN's web host and the #1 webcasting provider in the world.

2004: WICN moves into its current home at 50 Portland Street in the historic Davis Printer's Building. This space allowed WICN to begin live broadcasts in our performance studio "Studio 50"

2006: WICN ranked #4 jazz station throughout the country by jazz programmers nationwide

2007; WICN partners with the Hanover Theatre to bring top jazz performers to Worcester, including Glenn Miller and the Count Bassie Orchestras and Dave Brubeck among others

2009: WICN moved its tower from Boylston to Paxton increasing our listening area

2011: WICN launches a new website; live streaming is in full force

2012: WICN begins the Instrumental Partners program with the Worcester Public Schools, this program continues today and has put musical instruments in the hands over hundreds of Worcester youth.

2014: WICN wins "most Supportive of Local Music" for the second year in a row

2015: WICN collaborates with WPI to expand smartphone app to include iOS app

2017: WICN in partnership with Hanover Theatre and the Theatre District Alliance brought back the Jazz at Sunset back after a long hiatus, this time into the Theatre District with a sold-out outdoor performance by the world renown Grace Kelly.

2017: WICN launches an educational platform offering a class in understanding jazz basics, Jazz 101. So popular that it is continuing in 2018 with an encore of Jazz 101 and Jazz 201 both taught by Professor Ben Young, a staff lecturer at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

2018: WICN is planning two Jazz at Sunset concerts this summer again hosted at an outdoor venue in the Theatre District .after the revival of the very successful one in 2017

2018-2019: WICN is looking to a bright future with more enhanced programming for our listeners, events within our community, the renovation of WICN's home at the Davis Printer's Building that will be the future home of many arts tenants and a celebration TBA in 2019 or 2020 in honor of this milestone, 

At the core, WICN is about people. On-air announcers who love music and know how to present it: musicians who showcase their talents on the air on in the concert halls; volunteers who devote their time and energy; members of the business community who generously donate their resources, institutions and non-profit organizations who partner with us; and the listeners who support us with their generous financial contributions.

WICN looks to the future. The radio business is rapidly evolving in ways not imagined just a few years ago. Thanks to mobile apps and web streaming, WICN is literally anywhere in the world. in homes. businesses and on the go. Today digital and social media also provides WICN with ways to reach out share current programming, initiatives, community updates and industry related news. Social media has also provided a platform for our listeners/followers to have immediate reach back to us. Today digital and social media give WICN the ability to further its mission far beyond the boundary of our original broadcast signal.

And that mission is central to our success: To educate, entertain and inspire with music, public affairs, and community partnerships.


Artistic Logo Credit to:
Dave Rosolko




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