WNUR Underground Archive Project

Rock Show: The Early Days

The year 1980 marks an important shift in the culture and future of WNUR. From its first broadcast in the basement of Annie May Swift Hall on May 8th, 1950 to 1980, WNUR was a college radio station aimed at emulating more mainstream broadcasting style with an emphasis on newscasting and more popular forms of music. 

In 1980, a divide within the station between those who wanted to continue the mainstream tradition and those more interested in the new underground music culture of the early eighties began to form. Within two years the station would change its branding to “The New Music FM,” only to change to “Chicago’s Sound Experiment” in 1995. 

In this exhibit I would like to focus on the early years of the rock show, examining the push and pull between the tradition of WNUR and the current of the underground which slowly took hold. I do this through both music director notes and the actual sonics of records selected from the various year collections. Please feel free to listen along while you are reading to the companion podcast below, and stay tuned for more podcasts as the collection grows, I realize much of this music is not available on the current digital streaming apparatus and thus it seems important and vital to share the music itself of certain exceptional records. Stay tuned for more.