WIUX is Indiana University’s largest student media organization, specializing in radio broadcasting and web content. The Board of Directors, on-air staff, and organizational committees consist entirely of student volunteers. There are no paid positions at WIUX. WIUX’s two radio stations, 99.1 FM WIUX-LP Bloomington and B-Side Internet Radio, are on air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Student volunteers at WIUX come from a diverse range of academic majors, and any student is encouraged to apply to be a radio DJ or to serve on one or more of the many committees.
Campus radio at IU has been around for over 50 years and has had thousands of students on the air and behind the scenes. WQAD, a carrier current AM radio station was founded in Wright Quadrangle at Indiana University in 1962. The studios were originally in Todd House and later in Elliott House. WQAD beamed its programming to Wright Quadrangle, Teter Quadrangle, Read Center, Forest Quadrangle and what was then known as the Graduate Residence Center (GRC); at the time of WQAD, Wright Quadrangle housed only men. WQAD broadcasted for the first time on 730 AM via carrier current throughout Wright Quad on January 5, 1963. The station was started by physics major Bill Weaverling, chemistry major Steve Peterson, and education major Jerry Pugh.
WFQR Radio, another carrier current AM radio station, was founded in Foster Quadrangle in 1964; the call letters stood for “Foster Quadrangle Radio” and the station broadcasted on 600 AM. Its programming was beamed to the dorms along Fee Lane, including Foster, McNutt, and Briscoe Quadrangles. In 1965, WFQR Radio changed its call letters to WIN and continued to operate from Foster Quadrangle.
In 1966, Phil Murphy formed the Indiana University Radio Network (IURN) to combine sales for both student stations. At times during the 1966-67 school year, each station originated a “network feed” which was sent to the carrier current transmitters of all wired student housing. At other times, WIN and WQAD maintained separate programming. In 1967, the two stations merged to form the largest student-owned commercial carrier current campus radio station in the world. The new station, called WIUS for Indiana University Student radio, was the beginning of the station as we know it today. It was supposed to broadcast at 620 kHz to all student housing but, until the end of carrier current operations, some transmitters continued to operate at 730 kHz. The original WIUS studios were located at 617 East 8th Street, today the site of Mathers Museum. All IU undergraduate dorms were wired and able to tune into WIUS.
On October 10, 1972, the first day of National Fire Prevention Week, a pre-dawn fire destroyed the original WIUS studios. The fire was arson, set in at least two locations: the sales office at the front of the building and the administrative offices in the rear; those responsible have never been arrested. For one week, WIUS programming aired from a spare studio of the Indiana University Radio and Television Service. WIUS then relocated until Spring Break of 1973 to the old Elliott House WQAD studios, using salvaged and borrowed equipment, records that survived the fire, and records from student DJ collections.
“From mid-October through spring break, WIUS moved back to the Elliott House location, which was in its last year as a men’s dorm then. We did so because it provided us ready-made studio space. Room dividers put in by WQAD still existed in the storage area…enough for a newsroom and a studio, with a walkway and a small engineering closet. The Associated Press wire machine…yes, we had the AP back in those days…was located around the corner in another closet. We routinely assembled newscasts on the Elliott House ping-pong table and typed stories on two typewriters, which survived the fire…and are still at the station today. They’re old gray Royal manual typewriters. That’s as cramped and rudimentary a setup as WIUS ever had. Here’s the kicker: despite those physical problems, that’s when we began to assemble the entries for the AP Indiana Broadcast awards made in the spring of 1974 (for calendar year 1973), in which we swept every statewide category we entered. That means we beat the Indianapolis commercial stations! WIUS was named the Indiana AP station of the year. The job market was tight in radio news, and it helped a lot of us find work when we graduated.”
Bob Roberts (AKA Bob Rodenkirk, “Frankie B. Rhodes”), WIUS Program Director 1972-73
Over Spring Break of 1973, WIUS moved from Elliott House into the student radio house at 815 E. 8th St. (two blocks from the previous WIUS house) which is commonly referred to as “The Mansion”. In the fall of 1973, WIUS began to air its programming at 95.1 MHz on the local Blooomington cable TV system, then owned by Monroe Cablevision, in addition to carrier current. Broadcasts to IU dorms and a select number of fraternities and sororities (notably Alpha Epsilon Pi, Evans Scholars and the houses surrounding them) remained carrier current, although after 1977 the carrier current system was allowed to deteriorate and reception was often spotty or absent in certain dorms. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the dorms would be wired for cable; as soon as they were, WIUS became exclusively cable-accessible.
In 1985, after several years of sometimes sporadic broadcasts and funding so bad that portions of the WIUS House were rented out as student apartments, a group of students dedicated to IU radio formed a committee to seek funds for WIUS. With the university’s help, they provided funding to help improve the station. This funding lasted until the end of the decade.
The first annual Culture Shock Music Festival was put on by WIUS in 1986.
In 1994, WIUS was granted a portion of the student activity fee for each of the following two school years. This funding allowed WIUS evolve further; the station added open-air AM broadcasts from a low-power transmitter, identical to those used for roadside traffic reports in cities, atop the Indiana University Library. WIUS broadcasted to an approximately three-mile radius at 1570 kHz, while maintaining its cable FM presence. This transmitter remained in place until January 2006.
The 1994-95 school year proved to be a breakthrough year for WIUS in terms of recognition, identity and community relations. In the Bloomington Voice “Best of Bloomington” poll, The Alternative AM 1570 placed in ten categories, and won in Best Campus Organization, Best Festival and Concert (both for Best Radio Show for “Bloomington Vibes”). WIUS kept up with the information technology boom by adding a Real Audio server to their existing website in 1998. This served as a new way for alumni and parents, as well as other people outside of the Bloomington area, to listen to WIUS.
In 2004, an application for a student-operated FM radio license was submitted to the FCC. The FCC delayed granting a low-power FM license to WIUS because of another application in the Bloomington area. After settling the debate in court, in March 2005 the FCC granted the permit to WIUS and assigned the operating frequency of 100.3 MHz, identical to the former WQAX cable access station. The move to an FCC-licensed broadcast FM station, however, meant that the station needed to change its call letters. Since 1981, the FCC-licensed, student-operated FM station at Western Illinois University used the “WIUS” call letters. The selection of WIUX as the new call sign (in particular, the usage of the “X”) is a small tribute to the former WQAX, its IU student staff (now alumni), and the Bloomington area that it served. WIUX began broadcasting on 100.3 FM on January 30, 2006.
On June 4, 2007, WIUX moved to 99.1 FM after Columbus, Indiana radio station WYGB expanded its range to the nearby area and began using the 100.3 FM frequency.
WIUX was selected a “Staff Favorite” on iTunes radio, a list that consists of only 10 stations, in October and November of 2008 as well as May through August of 2009. Additionally, WIUX was nominated in late 2009 for “Best College Radio Station” in mtvU’s annual Woodie Awards competition. WIUX was one of 260 stations nominated for the award. It later advanced to the top 100, top 50, and top 25 rounds of voting.
In the spring of 2012, WIUX expanded its organization to include an online-only studio, B-Side, that can be streamed anywhere via the internet. With this addition, WIUX had two studios broadcasting radio programming simultaneously.
In February 2014, WIUX was again nominated for “Best College Radio Station” in the Woodie Awards. WIUX was one of 260 stations nominated for the award and, after multiple rounds of voting, placed in the top 10. In March 2014, the WIUX news team won the award for “Best Interview of 2013” from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) for their interview with comedy troupe the Whitest Kids U’ Know. In the summer of 2014, WIUX moved from 815 East 8th Street the new duplex home at 715-717 East 8th Street, one block west of its previous home.
WIUX won the award for “Best Liner” in March 2015 from the IBS along with placing in the top 3 at the awards in twelve other categories. In March of the following year, WIUX won the award for “Best College Radio Station (at university with over 10,000)”, “Best Website”, and “Best Public Service Promotion” along with placing as finalists in six other categories.
In the summer of 2017, WIUX left its house at 715-717 E. 8th Street and moved to a custom-built space in Franklin Hall at the IU Media School.