WUTK FM, the student-operated radio station of the College of Communications, went on air at 12:00 p.m., January 4, 1982, at 90.3 on the FM dial, with a 128-watt transmitter. There had been agitation for a radio station operated by and catering to students because WUOT had defined its mission as being to provide a public service to the people of East Tennessee through informational, cultural, and public affairs programs. In 1961 a student-run AM station was closed after failing to meet FCC regulations. In 1966 UT considered a student-run, closed channel radio station broadcasting directly to dormitories but did not implement it.

In 1968, at the impetus of UT student Chris Whittle, UT considered an AM companion to WUOT that would play top-40 music and feature student disc jockeys. Whittle received a $2,500 allocation from the Student Government Association to help start the new venture, which was not to have a tower but to use power lines linked to strategically placed speakers throughout the campus. The administration did not approve implementation of the plan.

In 1988 Dick Broadcasting Company gave its AM Station to UT. The gift, valued by station officials at $800,000 included 15 acres of land, a 5,000-square-foot transmitter building, three directional antennae, and studio equipment. A UT AM all-news station (850 talk radio) that sold advertising and operated commercially went on air on January 19, 1989. It was used in broadcasting classes to give students practical experience in the preparation of broadcast news. It broadcast national news from CBS and CNN with 50,000 watts of power. Two days after the AM station went live, the FM station (New Rock 90) went to a 24-hour format, with Terry Dishongh being the first disc jockey to host the 2:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift, and a new motto, Students Don’t Sleep.

In 1995 the college and university determined that the operating losses of the AM station should no longer be covered by the university, and the station and the 15 acres of land on Emory Road was sold in March 1996 to Dick Broadcasting.

In 2001 WUTK-FM changed its name from New Rock to The Torch to show listeners that it had much more than rock to offer them. Its transmitter tower is on top of Andy Holt Tower.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title WUTK
  • Author
  • Keywords WUTK
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date April 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 20, 2018