Wonderings about the growth of NPR radio stations in Virginia?

Why have the number of public radio stations grown explosively over the past year or two in Virginia?

One of the mysteries of life is that Harrisonburg, VA now has six NPR stations (88.1, 88.5, 89.3, 90.7, 91.1, and 91.7) while the DC area still only has two (WAMU and WETA).  And it’s not just Harrisonburg, either. Fredericksburg has four NPR stations and Charlottesville has six plus one other public radio station (WTJU) that isn’t formally an NPR station.

What is going on? Is there a collapse of commercial FM radio and a freeing of FM frequencies so that public radio is filling a vacuum?

It is obvious that some of the stations are so-called repeater stations. For example, I think that Virginia Tech (WVTF) has been expanding its stations into under the WVTW call sign, while its expansion into Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg has been using its original call sign, WVTF.  In any case, I would guess that VA Tech takes real pleasure in penetrating into Cavalier territory.

But why now?

A list of the call letters and frequencies is below for the three cities mentioned follows:

1430 – WTJU

88.3 – WVTF – RADIO IQ
88.5 – WAMU
89.5 – WYAU

88.1 – RADIO IQ
89.3 – WVTF
90.7 – WMRA
91.1 – WTJU
91.7 – WEMC

88.5 – WVTW
89.3 – WVTU

89.7 – WVTW

91.1 – WTJU

96.7 – WVTW

101.1 – WVTU

103.5 – WMRY

4 thoughts on “Wonderings about the growth of NPR radio stations in Virginia?

  1. In many places the “public” end of the spectrum is filled with religious radio. Do you think that perhaps there’s been a decline in religious radio in Virginia, thus freeing up the bandwidth?


    1. I do think that a decline in religious radio may be part of the reason. I was mainly thinking that the financial problems that commercial stations were having, the ones that used to be Clear Channel stations, were the most important factors, but the decline in religious radio may be even more important.


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