WGUC History

Cincinnati’s oldest NPR affiliate station, WGUC, continues to deliver the best in classical, jazz and independent music to the discerning ears of our loyal listener base. 90.9 started out broadcasting a mix of music and NPR talk programming, but nowadays, it’s all music all the time. That’s just the way that we at the station like it, and our listeners agree—it’s a daily marathon of non-stop, wall-to-wall classical music and works by contemporary artists fit to be the soundtrack to your life.

90.9 WGUC is Cincinnati’s home for music aficionados—just as much as the Cincinnati Opera or Symphony Orchestra, WGUC is an important civic institution, bringing a diverse, sophisticated, and well-curated selection of music to our city with every reliably grounding and inspirational program.

Anyone in Cincinnati with a passion for jazz, classical, and independent music knows that at WGUC, we always broadcast varied and interesting programs with a personal touch. Our music selections are hand-picked by the show hosts and their teams, who add the context and commentary that make for that richer, fuller WGUC listening experience you know and love.

Tune your radio, cellphone, or smart speaker to WGUC and listen anytime to what’s now playing or to hear a show you missed. Join the vibrant community of musicians, fans, professionals, critics, patrons, and concertgoers who look to WGUC as a virtual common space where the common language is uncommon music.

WGUC History Timeline:

The 1950's


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.


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 1960's

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


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


Myron Bennett hired.


Joseph Sagmaster retires; George Bryant becomes General Manager.

The 1970's


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


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.


Oscar Treadwell brings jazz to WGUC.

November 28, 1973

First meeting of WGUC Community Board.


WGUC’s programming expands to 24 hours.


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


Lotte Haynes answers the first call for volunteers


WGUC opens Corbett recording studio at Music Hall.

April 4, 1979

First WGUC/ WCET simulcast.

The 1980's


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.


WGUC moves to the Crosley Telecommunications Center.


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.


WGUC becomes a founding member of American Public Radio (now PRX).


Jim Thornton is named General Manager.


Rick Pender remembers the first CD played on WGUC


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.


WGUC receives Post-Corbett Award.


Ann Santen becomes General Manager.

The 1990's

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.


WGUC launches its website.

January 1996

Ann Santen retires; Brenda Pennell becomes General Manager.


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


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.

The 2000's & Beyond!


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.


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


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.

September 6, 2022

Nikea Randolph joins the WGUC hosting staff.

July 5, 2023

Megan Lavilla joins the WGUC hosting staff.