Classical 90.9 WGUC Public Radio
Classical 90.9 WGUC Public Radio

Our History

At exactly 4:00 pm on September 21st, 1960, UC's chimes rang out and chief announcer George Brengel announced the birth of WGUC. Since that time WGUC has produced a vast array of entertaining and informative programming.

The 1950s

1957 – Daniel Ransohoff, President of the Queen City Association and community leader, proposes the association rally support to establish a fine arts radio station in Cincinnati. A committee consisting of Mr. Ransohoff, Bruce Petrie Sr., and Addison Lanier is formed to pursue the idea.

January, 1958 – 1500 postcards and letters are sent to the Queen City Association in support of this vision.

1958 – Messrs. Ransohoff, Petrie and Lanier, assisted by Judge Robert N. Gorman, work to bring WOSU classical music programming to Cincinnati.

September, 1959 – The establishment of a new FM station in Cincinnati with programming devoted to the fine arts is discussed with community leaders.
October, 1959 – University of Cincinnati indicates an interest in participating in obtaining an FM license.

November 3, 1959 – University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees decides to establish an FM radio station and apply for a license from the FCC. Frank Purdy looked for help from Crosley Broadcasting. Clyde Haehnle describes the assistance he and Crosley Broadcasting were able to provide.

December 30, 1959 – FCC announces that the University of Cincinnati has been granted a license to operate WGUC on 90.9 megacycles.

How were the call letters, WGUC, chosen?


The 1960s

January, 1960 – Joseph Sagmaster, editorial writer for the Enquirer (Cincinnati Times Star) and program annotator for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is named as director of WGUC by UC President Dr. Walter Langsam.

Bruce Petrie Sr. remembers Joseph Sagmaster

1960 – Carolyn Watts and George Brengel hired by WGUC.

September 21, 1960 at 4:00 p.m. – First WGUC on-air broadcast. (4:00 – 11:00 p.m. weekdays; 12:30 – 7:30 pm Sundays).

Carolyn Watts describes the first day at WGUC

Dan Hoffheimer Remembers Listening as WGUC Went on the Air

1961 – Myron Bennett hired.
1969 – Joseph Sagmaster retires; George Bryant becomes General Manager.


The 1970s

1971- WGUC signs on as a charter member of National Public Radio.

April 20, 1971 – NPR airs inaugural program, coverage of the Senate hearings on the War Powers Act.

May 3, 1971 – First broadcast of NPR's signature program "All Things Considered."

September, 1971 – Paul Laumann's "Kitchen Koncert" moves to WGUC.

Bob Stewart remembers Paul Laumann

1972 – WGUC is awarded a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create a music production center.

George Bryant talks about the producton grant

June, 1973 – Gary Barton begins his tenure at WGUC.

1973 – Oscar Treadwell brings jazz to WGUC.
November 28, 1973 – First meeting of WGUC Community Board.

1975 - WGUC's programming expands to 24 hours.

1976 – Albert L. Hulsen is named General Manager. On-air fundraising comes to WGUC.

Lotte Haynes answers the first call for volunteers

1978 - WGUC opens Corbett recording studio at Music Hall.

April 4, 1979 – First WGUC/ WCET simulcast.


The 1980s

1980 – WGUC participates as one of only 17 NPR satellite uplink locations.

February, 1980 – NPR launches Morning Edition. WGUC listener survey is in favor of maintaining Paul Laumann's Kitchen Koncert in the 6:00 – 10:00 am timeslot by an overwhelming margin.

July 26, 1980 – First use of uplink capability. WGUC broadcasts the Cincinnati Opera production of "The Pirates of Penzance" to listeners in San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and other American cities.

1980 – WGUC moves to the Crosley Telecommunications Center.

1980 – In honor of WGUC's twentieth anniversary, WGUC becomes the first public radio station to commission new music. Seven College-Conservatory of Music composers are commissioned to write pieces that would be broadcast throughout the United States and Europe.

November, 1981 – Walter Sheppard replaces Al Hulsen as General Manager.
1982 – WGUC becomes a founding member of American Public Radio (now PRX).

1982 – Jim Thornton is named General Manager.

Rick Pender remembers the first CD played on WGUC

1983 – WGUC broadcasts the first west to east transatlantic digital, satellite program (to Sweden.).

February, 1984 – WGUC and the European Broadcasting Union produce a live, transatlantic digital, satellite broadcast of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to nine countries. (The digital transmission is so successful that the EBU decides not to transmit in analog from the United States anymore.)

June, 1984 - WGUC presents a live, nationwide broadcast of the gala opening of Riverbend Music Center.
1985 – WGUC receives Post-Corbett Award.

June, 1989 - Ann Santen becomes General Manager.


The 1990s

April, 1991 – WGUC is a co-founder and first beneficiary of the Cincinnati International Wine Festival.

January, 1994 – The Daniel J. Ransohoff Society is established to honor Daniel J. Ransohoff's commitment to WGUC and its contribution to the Cincinnati's quality of life.

July 1, 1994 – WGUC becomes a separate tax-exempt non profit organization (Cincinnati Classical Public radio, Inc.) and changes its relationship with the University of Cincinnati. UC contracts with Cincinnati Classical Public Radio, Inc. to manage the station. The Community Board becomes the Board of Trustees.

Dan Hoffheimer Describes the Birth of Cincinnati Public Radio

September, 1995 – WGUC organizes Karamu, a celebration of African American Achievement in the Arts.

1995 – WGUC launches its website.

January, 1996 – Ann Santen retires; Brenda Pennell becomes General Manager.

1996 – Brenda Pennell invites Thane Maynard to move production of the 90 Second Naturalist to WGUC. He makes the switch "and has never looked back."

A Special 90 Second Naturalist from April 1, 2008

1997- WGUC collaborates on classical music programming with WKSU and Colorado Public Radio.

October, 1997 – Brenda Pennell resigns to become General Manager of KUSC in Los Angeles.

October 6, 1997 – Brian O'Donnell joins the WGUC hosting staff.

July, 1998 – Richard Eiswerth becomes General Manager.

December, 1998 – WGUC begins broadcasting Classics for Kids® with host Naomi Lewin.

April, 1999 – WGUC receives first membership pledges via the Internet.

July, 1999 – WGUC begins live streaming of its broadcast signal on the Internet.


2000 And Beyond!

2000 - WGUC celebrates its 40th anniversary and commissions Maestro Carmon DeLeone to compose "Fanfare, Funk and Fandango (An American Dance Set)." WGUC and DeLeone partner to release the music on CD with DeLeone's "The Princess and the Pea and "Angel of Innocence" from Billy Sunday and "Harper sets #1 and #3."

February 14, 2002 -  FCC grants application for assignment of WGUC's broadcast license from the University of Cincinnati to Cincinnati Classical Public Radio Inc. The transfer of the license officially marked the end of UC's financial support of the station.

July 26, 2003 – WGUC begins broadcasting a digital HD Radio® signal.

April 10, 2005 – WGUC presents the inaugural Airwaves Kite Fest at Voice of America Park.

January 27, 2006 – A full time jazz service begins broadcasting at 90.9 WGUC HD2.

August 22, 2005 – Cincinnati Classical Public Radio purchases 91.7 WVXU from Xavier University. All Things Considered and Car Talk move to WVXU and 90.9 WGUC becomes a 24-hour classical music service. Cincinnati Classical Public Radio changes its name to Cincinnati Public Radio.

2009 - WGUC was recognized by a national Station Resource Group study as the top performing classical radio station in the country.

2010 – WGUC partners with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to commission five fanfares in celebration of the station's 50th Anniversary and Maestro Paavo Järvi's 10th anniversary as CSO Music Director.

August and September 2010 – WGUC continues its 50th anniversary celebration with the community art project, Play Me I'm Yours.

August 1, 2014 – WGUC broadcasts first CSO Lumenocity concert live.

November 21, 2016 – Elaine Diehl joins the WGUC fulltime hosting staff.

October 1, 2017 – WGUC presents the special program, Welcome Home to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Cincinnati's Music Hall.

Brian O'Donnell introduces Music Hall: Welcome Home

August 19, 2019 – Andy Ellis joins the WGUC hosting staff.

September 21, 2020 – WGUC celebrates 60 years of classical music broadcasting.


© 90.9 WGUC | 1223 Central Parkway | Cincinnati, OH 45214