Our History

The History of WCPE

…a remarkable story of innovation and initiative, combined with the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers.

1973: Five N.C. State University students dream of starting a radio station. They form the Educational Information Corporation and apply to the FCC for a two-watt, non-commercial broadcasting license.

1978: Using hand-built and army-surplus equipment, WCPE takes to the air with 12,500 watts four hours a day from an old frame house in Raleigh, North Carolina. Volunteers hold yard sales to pay operating expenses.

1982: A power increase to 33,000 watts, with a new antenna and transmitter, allows the station to reach much of the Research Triangle. WCPE responds to listeners by programming 24-hour Great Classical Music.

1984: Operations move to their present site outside Wake Forest, North Carolina.

1993: With FCC approval, WCPE begins broadcasting at 100,000 watts.

1998: WCPE installs a first-of-its-kind broadband antenna atop a 1,200-foot tower, reaching new listeners in North Carolina and Virginia. The station establishes a digital satellite uplink and soon adds a second satellite signal in an unscrambled analog format to serve owners of C-band home satellite receivers as well as cable television operators. WCPE begins streaming in RealAudio on the Internet, becoming one of the first public broadcasters to take advantage of this new medium.

1999: A college FM station in Pennsylvania becomes our first broadcast affiliate, carrying WCPE’s satellite signal on weekends. Apple adds WCPE to its QuickTime TV/radio network, making us available online in multiple formats.

2000: Listenership via Internet, C-band satellite, cable TV, and FM affiliate continues to grow. WCPE adds a Windows Media stream, becoming one of only a few public stations to offer listeners a choice of three online formats, each with unlimited connectivity.

2001: An MP3 stream is added to the Internet offerings. WCPE adds a translator in Aberdeen at 88.3 FM, allowing Great Classical Music to be heard in the Sandhills region of North Carolina.

2002: WCPE becomes the first radio station to stream 24-hour classical music in Ogg Vorbis, an open-source format; WCPE now streams in five formats (Real Audio, QuickTime, Windows Media, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis). TheClassicalStation.org, WCPE’s website, wins the Silver Microphone award for Best Radio Station Website. In the face of unfair royalty regulations, WCPE steps up as a leader in the fight for DMCA reform and fair treatment for non-commercial radio. WCPE drops the BBC news summaries from its broadcast day, focusing now solely on 24-hour classical music. After a long, hard-fought battle, WCPE wins FCC approval to broadcast at full power in all directions from our studio site north in Wake Forest.

2003: WCPE celebrates its silver anniversary: 25 years of Great Classical Music. The long-awaited removal of the antenna shield is complete; the shield had been required by the FCC and limited WCPE’s signal strength to the west of the radio station. Its removal allows WCPE to broadcast 100,000 in every direction. WCPE is one of five finalists for the Marconi Award (given by the National Association of Broadcasters) for Best Classical Station of the Year. WCPE begins providing classical music on WUNC-owned transmitters on the Outer Banks. Outreach listening surges as one in four contributions are made from outside the Triangle area.

The Future: WCPE is committed to providing Great Classical Music to our listeners 24 hours a day, every day of the year. We pledge to continue bringing classical music to a worldwide audience using the latest in broadcast technology while maintaining our commitment to our loyal local listeners who may remember our station’s humble beginnings.

Visit Us!
If you are in our area, come visit our station. We are located on Chalk Road, between Rolesville and Wake Forest. Just head for the tallest tower you see!

Read about our first 33 years!