When Louisville’s civic leadership founded 89.3 WFPL in 1950, they launched a tradition of innovation, entrepreneurship and uncommon public service.
Inspired to meet the evolving needs of our community, Mayor Charles Farnsley and Clarence “Skip” Graham, the director of the Louisville Free Public Library, created Louisville’s first public radio station. Both leaders fully understood the value of information, education and culture in the development of Louisville and its citizenry. They saw the need for innovative ways to provide access to learning and recognized that a public radio service could, as they expressed at the time, “become a vital community agency for social cultivation and strength.”
Louisville’s vision for 89.3 WFPL predated NPR’s first broadcast by 20 years and the Public Broadcasting Act by 17 years.
In 1993, Louisville made public radio history when the community’s three public radio stations — 89.3 WFPL, 90.5 WUOL, and 91.9 WFPK — were brought under one umbrella organization. The partnership maximized efficiencies in station management and content and removed duplication in programming with station-specific formats.
In 2008, the name of the organization was changed to Louisville Public Media to better reflect the organization’s commitment to new, interactive media platforms.
Today, LPM continues to innovate as a leading civic news organization and community connector through music and culture. What began in 1950 as a single 10-watt radio station has evolved in tandem with the community to become a multi-platform public service rooted in the community that created it and serving a diverse audience.
- 1950: The city founded 89.3 WFPL at the Louisville Free Public Library
- 1951: WFPL received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in recognition of outstanding public service
- 1954: 91.9 WFPK Classical debuts (now Triple-A)
- 1967: Public Broadcasting Act was passed
- 1970: National Public Radio made its debut
- 1976: University of Louisville launched 90.5 WUOL Classical
- 1986: WUOL becomes the first local public radio station to broadcast 24 hours a day. WFPK followed in 1989.
- 1993: The Public Radio Partnership (PRP) is formed as a 501(c)(3) community licensee
- 1995: Louisville becomes the first public broadcast entity in the U.S. to operate three radio stations under a single board of directors and management team
- 1996: Public Radio Partnership introduces new formats: 89.3 WFPL, the NPR affiliate, became a 24/7 News/Talk provider; 91.9 WFPK changed from classical to the emerging AAA (Adult Alternative Album) format, with the addition of jazz, blues, and bluegrass; 90.5 WUOL retained its classical music format
- 1997: Not long after purchasing the building at 619 South Fourth Street for renovation to house the three stations under one roof, a fire broke out in the building. The city – private and public – rallied to meet the capital campaign’s goal of $5 million
- 2000: In April, the Public Radio Partnership began broadcasting from its new home
- 2001: All three stations offer online audio-streaming allowing worldwide access to programming in real time
- 2002: WFPK Waterfront Wednesday held its first season at Waterfront Park
- 2008: PRP changed its name to Louisville Public Media
- 2013: The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting launches
- 2015: WUOL launches music education programming
- 2018: The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting wins LPM's second Peabody Award
- 2021: WFPL Newsroom Expansion adds local civic news capacity