WRST-FM is the non-commercial FM radio station on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus.
WRST went on the air on April 20, 1966 as a ten-watt monophonic station at 88.1 mHz. The station's original studios were in the former Fuller-Goodman Lumber Company office building at 203 Blackhawk Street (a spot now near the UWO tennis courts and the Kolf Sports Center parking lot); the transmitter was on the tenth floor of the then-new Gruenhagen Hall with the antenna attached to a pole on the building's roof.
The station's debut broadcast schedule that spring was four and a half hours per weekday evening, along with Saturday broadcasts of WSU-O baseball. A project launched in 1968 allowed the station to be heard in campus residence halls at 600 kHz on the AM band by using "carrier current" transmitters in each building.
WRST in the 1970s from UW Oshkosh Radio-TV-Film on Vimeo.
In 1971, the station moved to its present location on the fourth floor of the Arts and Communications Building on Woodland Avenue. In 1973, the current transmitter went into service. Power was increased to 960 watts (in stereo) and the frequency moved to 90.3 on the FM dial. The broadcast schedule was gradually increased to 20 hours a day (6:00am-2:00am), and in 1982, the station went to a full 24-hour schedule year-round.
From the outset, WRST provided local news to area radio listeners and augmented its student-hosted programs with public affairs programs on tape from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters and later added similar tape and transcription programs from the National Educational Radio Network, National Public Radio, the Longhorn Radio Network, Radio Canada International and United Nations Radio. The station also carried the weekday international newsmagazine from Pacifica Radio News for several years via a telephone feed from Washington, DC. The phone feed was replaced in 1990 when WRST acquired an NPR satellite receiving system, becoming one of the very few student stations in the U.S. with access to the public radio satellite.
From 1983 to 1986, WRST aired National Public Radio's Morning Edition by tape delay through an agreement with Wisconsin Public Radio. A more-formal arrangement with WPR took effect in February 1993, when WRST joined the network as an affiliate, carrying their "Ideas Network" service of talk/spoken word/informational programs. WRST carries the WPR schedule for parts of each day, with student programming at other times.
Throughout its history, WRST has been committed to providing a training opportunity for media students while at the same time, giving listeners in the area an alternative radio service that brings honor to the University. The station serves the community through its news and public affairs programming, remote broadcasts, sports offerings, alternative music policy, internet streaming, and the program services of Wisconsin Public Radio. WRST continues its proud tradition as the only alternative radio station in the Fox Valley.