The Midwest has a rich history of broadcast stations that have made their unique mark on the industry—both commercial and non-commercial alike. This month we visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, and the 31st largest city in the United States. The city is perhaps best known for its many breweries, and of course the baseball team named for those breweries, but it is also a home to a very diverse population, as well as a thriving music and cultural scene. Genres covered in the local musical landscape range everywhere from Jazz and Classical to Rock, Metal, Punk, Hip Hop, and everything in between. The city has also hosted a number of well known club DJs. Nationally known bands that have come from the Milwaukee music scene include the Violent Femmes, the BoDeans, and many others.
serves the city with a unique outlet for new music from local bands, playing at least two tracks from local bands each hour. Many of these bands would likely not receive airtime anywhere else. The station aims to serve as a common gathering place for the community, both on the air and physically at the station. Their mission is to be “a catalyst for creating a better, more inclusive and engaged Milwaukee” and “reach a new generation of radio listeners with an entertaining and adventurous selection of music and public affairs programming.”
A warm and inviting public common area greets visitors to Radio Milwaukee. The space connects between the station''s main entrance and a local coffee shop. Large overhead doors open and allow this common area to become an extension of the main performance venue for live events.
88.9 WYMS has been on the air in Milwaukee since 1973 and is licensed to Milwaukee Public Schools. The station for many years had broadcast Jazz music with a mix of ethnic programming (particularly polka music) on the weekends. In 2002, the station''s operations were handed over to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for a period of time after the school district suffered a budget shortfall.
A large collection of Jazz LPs gives a nod to the station''s history.
Radio For Milwaukee
In 2003, the school district sought proposals for a nonprofit group to run the station under LMA. A nonprofit startup known as Radio For Milwaukee had a distinct vision to hyper-serve the community with locally focused programming completely different from what was available through existing commercial and non-commercial outlets. By 2004, they had an agreement with the school district in place and began to execute their vision.
After several years spent figuring out exactly what the “sound” of Milwaukee is (no small task due to the diverse musical genres represented in the town) and how best to serve the community, made its long-awaited debut on WYMS in 2007 from the existing studios located at the Milwaukee Public Schools administration building.
88Nine Main Control Room
The main control room includes a small performance space with a separate mixer for live bands which feeds into the Axia network for broadcast.
“Studio Milwaukee” main performance area