Editor’s Note: WTUL is currently in their annual fund-raiser, this year called the 48th Annual Rock on Survival Marathon. WTUL will be putting on events all around the city to raise money, including yoga at Hillel, trivia night at Dat Dog (Freret) on Wednesday at 7:00 PM, and there is an alumni reunion on Thursday (also at Dat Dog). Friday starts the 3 sets of 24 hour Djing, so you can tune in (91.5) and support WTUL here. What exactly are you supporting when you donate to WTUL? Well, here’s the history.
WTUL studio (photo by: Hillary Donnell)
WTUL is a progressive/alternative college radio station based out of Tulane University broadcasting to the city of New Orleans. Offering a mix of cutting-edge progressive, electronica, classical, New Age, straight-ahead jazz, folk, blues Latin, world reggae, show tunes, kid’s show and an eclectic mix of a variety of genres, WTUL has been broadcasting since 1959. Operated by students of the university and volunteer DJs, the station is a free-form FM station operating at 91.5 MHz with an ERP of 1.5 kW.
WTUL began as an AM station, broadcasting only to Tulane’s campus and dorms. On carrier current 550AM, the station sounded like a modern Top 40 station. The antenna was constructed by the station’s “tech staff” and consisted of, “several rings of metal tubing about 2 feet in diameter that were to be mounted on a 40 foot telescoping mast” (1). The antenna was placed on top of the 13th story of Monroe hall.
As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, WTUL went off the air on August 28, 2005. The building, which housed the station, was badly damaged by flooding. In December 2005, the station began transmitting once again off the, “mezzanine of the Rue de la Course coffee shop” (2). The broadcast was transmitted online and through a relay station via donated bandwidth from Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (3). The station maintained a limited broadcasting schedule from 6:00 AM to 12:00 AM until it moved to Uptown Square on the corner of Broadway Street and Leake Avenue. Currently, the station broadcasts on a 24 hour schedule.
Jerry Springer was a DJ on WTUL as an undergraduate student at Tulane University. At the time of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Springer announced the news to the station’s listeners. Bass player and musical director Ivan Bodley was also a noted WTUL Punk Show DJ in the 80s. Musician Ernie K-Doe, known for his 1961 hit song “Mother-In-Law,” was a DJ at WTUL in the 90s. Additionally, a number of corporate music executives have also DJ-ed on the station.
Rock On Survival Marathon
The Rock-On Survival Marathon is WTUL’s annual fundraiser that usually takes place in March and lasts for approximately two weeks. Planning for this event normally starts mid-fall of the year prior. The event normally features many live local bands and is the station’s biggest fundraiser. Previous acts featured have included Venus and the Idiots, Waka Waka, Divine Culture, Princess Superstar, and Sonia Tetlow(4). The event also includes on-air pledge drives and 24-hour DJ shifts (5).
The station features a wide variety of programs. Each program typically lasts about two hours and include such titles as The Pop Show, Stilts and Shuffy’s Soul Symposium, Storm Surge of Reverb Instrumental Rock & Surf, The Show Where You Heard That Song, and The Homegrown Local Show. Playlists are distributed over the station’s RadioActivity site, as well as on twitter. On the station’s website, four blogs are updated regularly including “Hip-Hop,” “News and Views,” and “Classical.” Many of the station’s DJ’s also post regularly on twitter accounts. WTUL’s studio can be found in the basement of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life on Tulane University’s campus.
- (Robert L. Dunn, Production Manager of WTUL, “THE HISTORY OF WTUL”).
- (Promotions Coordinator Lisa Mirman, “Spinning Indie 50 State Tour: Stop 4 – Louisiana Station WTUL” http://spinningindie.blogspot.com/2008/11/spinning-indie-50-state-tour-stop-4.html)
- (Lisa, Krieger M. “AIRWAVES TO INTERNET – STANFORD HELPS STORM–DAMAGED TULANE STATION GET ON THEWEB.” San Jose Mercury News[San Jose, CA] 27 Dec. 2005, Morning Final ed., Local sec.: 1B. Print)
- (Miester, Mark. “WTUL Rock-On-Survival Marathon Princess Superstar, and Sonia Tetlow.” OffBeat 01 Mar. 1997. Print)
- (Maybe, Brad. “WTUL Station Profile.” CMJ New Music Report 829 (2003): 24. Print)