Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
WMFO began broadcasting on February 6, 1971, as a daily AM radio station. Over the next few years it became a twenty-four hour a day FM station, while being lauded as one of the best college radio stations in Boston.
WMFO began broadcasting out of the third floor of as a daily AM station, running a few programs a day, but soon developed enough local interest to switch to the FM band, with ten watts at 91.5 FM. Licensed as an educational radio station, WMFO was required by the FCC to broadcast local and national news and public affairs, and as a result became quite popular in Medford and Somerville. In 1973, with a $1000 grant from the TCU Senate, WMFO broadcast live coverage of the Medford and Somerville elections, including taped interviews with the mayoral candidates.
In 1974, WMFO finally had enough DJs and funding to begin broadcasting twenty-four hours a day, and began to follow the freeform format that characterizes the station today. Along with newscasts at different points during the day, WMFO played music that would not normally have been heard on popular radio. The weekly WMFO schedule included, for example, a Haitian music program and a Brazilian program.
On April 2, 1977, WMFO suffered a major setback when fire destroyed most of . The fire, which was detected while WMFO was on the air, destroyed the entire third floor of Curtis, causing over $100,000 damage to the WMFO studios and destroying 12,000 records. Not to be defeated, however, WMFO was back broadcasting within six hours, going out live from the loft in Eaton Lounge. After a delay of about a week, WMFO set up in the Bolles House until Curtis could be repaired. In that same small period of time, the station had already received over 2500 records and $3200 in donations to restore the studio.
By the beginning of the fall semester in 1977, repairs to Curtis were complete and WMFO was able to move back in. Over the next few months, WMFO worked to improve their studios, and in early 1978 installed $20,000 worth of new equipment in .
In January of 1982, after a long application process with the FCC, WMFO's request to move from 10 to 125 watts was finally approved. The station upgrade allowed their signal to travel further, increasing the WMFO's potential audience.
Although WMFO has occasionally faced student accusations that the programming is not always what the campus wants to hear, the station has remained true to its freeform style, and as of 2001 continues to broadcast freeform radio seven days a week.
Source: TW, OBS, TD
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.