Celebrating 75 Years of WRTI: A Journey through Jazz and Classical

From its humble beginnings 75 years ago on Temple's campus, WRTI has grown into a cherished institution that brings the beauty of jazz and classical music to over 300,000 listeners each week. Join us on a journey through the history of WRTI, as we explore its evolution, its dedication to the community, and its role in promoting the timeless art of music.

The Birth of WRTI: A Voice That Echoes

Explore the humble beginnings of WRTI and its journey to becoming a beloved jazz and classical station.

It all started 75 years ago on Temple's campus when Stanley Isenberg uttered the first words ever broadcast by WRTI. With a small team of Temple students, they shared news, music, and scripted ads with anyone who could pick up the signal.

Initially, WRTI had a limited broadcast range, relying on the campus wires to transmit their signal. However, in 1953, WRTI became an FCC-licensed FM station, expanding its reach and paving the way for its future growth.

From its modest beginnings, WRTI has evolved into a beacon of jazz and classical music, captivating the hearts of over 300,000 listeners each week.

A Journey of Growth and Community

Discover how WRTI expanded its mission, embraced the community, and became a vital cultural resource.

In the 1980s, WRTI experienced a significant expansion when it started receiving funding from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. This transformed the station from a student-focused activity to a community-serving institution.

With the funding, WRTI was able to employ more full-time staff, enhance its broadcasting capabilities, and extend its reach beyond Philadelphia to northeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Throughout its history, WRTI has remained dedicated to supporting Philadelphia's jazz scene and promoting local artists. The station has recorded live performances, hosted free concerts, and played a crucial role in fostering the next generation of jazz and classical lovers.

The Harmonious Blend: Jazz and Classical

Explore WRTI's unique format and its commitment to showcasing both jazz and classical music.

WRTI made a bold move in 1997 by adopting a half jazz, half classical format, making it the only station of its kind in the country at the time. This decision was driven by the belief that music has more in common than what sets it apart.

Listeners can enjoy the best of both worlds as WRTI seamlessly transitions between jazz and classical throughout the day. The station's emphasis on cross-promotion allows the audience to discover the beauty of both genres.

With approximately one-third of WRTI listeners tuning in to both jazz and classical broadcasts, and the rest focusing on their preferred genre, the station has found a harmonious balance that speaks to its diverse audience.

Championing Music: WRTI's Impact

Learn how WRTI goes beyond being a radio station and serves as a catalyst for music appreciation and community engagement.

WRTI's mission extends beyond broadcasting music. The station actively collaborates with educational partners to provide opportunities for young students to participate in and attend musical performances.

By promoting local artists and venues, WRTI acts as an on-ramp to live music consumption, driving a healthy and vibrant music economy. The station's commitment to showcasing the Philadelphia Orchestra and producing original music content further solidifies its role as a champion of music.

As WRTI celebrates 75 years on the air, it continues to inspire, entertain, and cultivate the next generation of music lovers, ensuring that the magic of jazz and classical music lives on.

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