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WUTC Fall Pledge Drive is Underway Through Friday, Sept. 30

CHATTANOOGA—It takes a lot of individual contributions to achieve the funding needed to bring Chattanooga’s favorite NPR content to the region, and WUTC-FM 88.1 kicks off its Fall Pledge Drive today with a $50,000 goal.

Listener contributions cover two-thirds of the cost to WUTC for NPR programming.

The Fall Pledge Drive continues through Friday, Sept. 30, and is the first since WUTC’s 40th anniversary on Aug. 1. On that date in 1982, WUTC broadcast its first locally produced program. That followed a lengthy and complex process that began with obtaining the 88.1 FM frequency (formerly licensed to WUTS-FM at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee), included seeking community input on establishing a radio station at UTC and ended with WUTC-FM being licensed as Chattanooga’s exclusive NPR station.

Plans are in development for a 40th-anniversary celebration in 2023, with details to be announced later this fall.

Meanwhile, the Fall Pledge Drive comes during a surge of momentum that brought new programming to listeners in July and a new home for WUTC studios this year.

WUTC listener support enabled the addition of some of NPR’s most popular programs to the broadcast and web streaming lineup. These include “Science Friday” at 2 p.m. Fridays, “The Children’s Hour” at 7 a.m. Saturdays and “The New Yorker Radio Hour” at noon Sundays. “Today, Explained” airs at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday and 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; and “Latino USA” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays. The full, 24-hour, seven-day broadcast schedule, including the playlist for each of Richard Winham’s 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday shows, is here: https://www.wutc.org/wutc-schedule.

When Winham opened his live show on Aug. 29, WUTC’s move from the ground floor of Cadek Hall at UTC to the top floor of the University’s 540 McCallie Ave. building was both complete and official. That broadcast was the first originating from a place other than Cadek Hall for the first time in almost 40 years.

The new space was made possible by UTC and listener support, and the move into it followed renovations to the 540 McCallie Ave. space that started in 2020 and cost about $102,000. New equipment cost $60,000-$70,000, and furniture was retrieved from surplus no longer in use on campus. The new space has 1,800 square feet and floor-to-ceiling windows facing west, with a view Station Manager Bryan Lane describes as “incredible.”

Next, plans call for renovating adjacent, former cafeteria space in the McCallie building with $115,000 donated by Chattanooga’s Patten family. Once renovated, the area will accommodate musical acts of all sizes—from single performers to ensembles—in performances that can be broadcast live on WUTC.

Later this fall, listeners will experience conversations involving local friends and neighbors who took part in “One Small Step,” an initiative from the organizers of NPR’s StoryCorps. “One Small Step” is a response to increasingly polarized American society that brings together pairs of people from different perspectives toward finding common ground. Like StoryCorps, which WUTC also brought to the Tennessee Valley, “One Small Step” conducted interviews in a very limited number of cities—only six—and Chattanooga is one.

A collection of staff and volunteers are gearing up now to make WUTC’s Fall Pledge Drive happen. Supporters can give online, any time, at www.wutc.org.