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90.7 WFAE Charlotte logo.jpg
City Charlotte, North Carolina
Broadcast area Charlotte metropolitan area
Branding 90.7 WFAE
Slogan Charlotte's NPR News Source
Translator(s) See § Translators
Repeater(s) See § Stations
Format FM/HD1: News/Talk
HD2: The Charlotte Jazz Channel
HD3: PRX Remix
ERP 100,000 watts
HAAT 331 meters (1,086 ft)
Class C0
Facility ID 69436
Callsign meaning W Fine Arts Education[1]
Former frequencies 90.9 MHz (1981-1987)
Affiliations NPR
Owner University Radio Foundation, Inc.
Webcast Listen Live

WFAE (90.7 FM) is a non-commercial public radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is the flagship NPR news/talk station in the Charlotte region. The station's main studio is located at One University Place in the University City neighborhood of northeast Charlotte,[2] and a satellite downtown Charlotte studio is located in Spirit Square on North College Street. WFAE's broadcast tower is located at (35°17′15.0″N 80°41′44.0″W / 35.287500°N 80.695556°W / 35.287500; -80.695556).[3]

WFAE broadcasts on HD Radio.[4]


The station signed on for the first time on June 29, 1981 on 90.9 FM as a service of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, succeeding a student-run carrier current station operated from the basement of the Cone University Center that began operation in the mid-1970s. In addition to NPR programs, the new station aired jazz during the day and classical music at night. Later, jazz was moved to night.[5] Before WFAE's sign-on, the only NPR outlet in the area had been WNSC-FM, a South Carolina Educational Radio outlet in Rock Hill.

The station grew rapidly, and within five years moved to much larger studios in the One University Place building near the UNC Charlotte campus, where it still is today.

In February 1986, WFAE began airing new-age music on a Sunday evening show emphasizing contemporary jazz, featuring such artists as George Winston and Kitaro.[6] The show was called "New Age Sunday" at first, but the station dropped that name to distance itself from the new age spiritual movement.[7] In 1987, WFAE began broadcasting 24 hours a day[8] and began airing more jazz, dropping classical music because WDAV played it.[9][10] Also in 1987, it moved to its current dial location at 90.7 FM. With the move came an increase in its news and information programming. It also devoted more time to contemporary jazz.[10]

WFAE's growth occurred amid financial uncertainty. UNC Charlotte was eventually forced to end support for the station due to a budget crunch. In 1994, UNC Charlotte handed over control to a nonprofit community board, the University Radio Foundation, which still owns the station today.

WFAE continued to grow through the next decade. It added a satellite station in Hickory, North Carolina, WFHE, at 90.3 MHz, in 1995. WFAE's signal is spotty at best in some parts of the North Carolina Foothills. WFHE largely simulcasts WFAE, with inserts specific to the Foothills area airing during hourly news breaks. In 1996, it largely dropped music in favor of a news/talk format as part of an agreement with WNSC-FM to provide non-conflicting programming. It was one of the first NPR stations to air NPR's midday news/talk block (The Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air and Talk of the Nation). However, it had been committed to news long before then.

In 1998, Charlotte Talks began airing, hosted by former longtime WBT host Mike Collins. Charlotte Talks is a popular local show that focuses on local issues and figures and airs live from 9:00 am to 10:00 am Monday through Friday. It soon became "the de facto talk show of record in Charlotte".[11]

In November 2000, WFAE dropped its last jazz program, Jazz Tonight with Barbara Nail, which ran from 8 to midnight weekdays, replacing it with a rerun of Fresh Air, The Todd Mundt Show, and two extra hours of The World Today.[12]

While its weekday lineup consists entirely of news/talk programs provided mostly by NPR, PRI, or the BBC, music provides the basis for some of its weekend programming. On Saturday evenings from 9 pm to midnight, WFAE broadcasts 3 hours of mainstream jazz, while on Sunday evenings from 7 pm to midnight, WFAE carries PRI's Echoes. WFAE also used to air a locally produced Sunday evening program of new-age music called Nightscapes, but replaced that with an expanded broadcast of Echoes.

For many years, WFAE was the originating station for The Thistle & Shamrock, a popular Celtic music show from NPR that originated on WFAE when it was licensed to UNC Charlotte and its host, Fiona Ritchie, was a visiting professor at the university. It began as a local program soon after WFAE signed on, and was picked up nationally in 1983. Even after WFAE dropped most music programming from its schedule, Thistle remained on the schedule until 2013.

In 2004, WFAE became the first station in Charlotte and the first public radio station in North Carolina to broadcast in HD Radio.[13] HD Radio was also added to WFHE.

On July 28, 2008, WFAE began airing jazz from JazzWorks on one of its HD channels to reach those disappointed by WNSC-FM joining SCETV's all-news network. Locally produced jazz shows were a possibility as well, since the station still has a large music library.[14]

In 2012, WFAE added two low-powered translators in the Sandhills—one in Laurinburg and one in Southern Pines.


One full-power station is licensed to simulcast the programming of WFAE:

Call sign Frequency City of license Facility ID ERP
m (ft)
Class Transmitter coordinates Call sign assigned
WFHE 90.3 FM (HD) Hickory, North Carolina 69437 4,000 127 m (417 ft) C3 35°50′59.5″N 81°26′39.3″W / 35.849861°N 81.444250°W / 35.849861; -81.444250 (WFHE) December 19, 1994


WFAE programming is broadcast on the following translators:

Call sign Frequency
City of license ERP
m (ft)
Class FCC info
W229BD 93.7 Southern Pines, North Carolina 10 94.2 m (309 ft) D FCC
W291BM 106.1 Laurinburg, North Carolina 80 51.7 m (170 ft) D FCC


  1. ^ Pam Kelley, "Public Radio Stations Facing Crisis with N.C. Budget Cuts," The Charlotte Observer, April 2, 1991.
  2. ^ "Directions to WFAE". Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  3. ^ "FM Query Results for WFAE, Federal Communications Commission". Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  4. ^ "HD Radio Stations in Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC". Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  5. ^ Kathy Haight, "Jazz Turns Hot As Charlotte Warms to the Sound," The Charlotte Observer, October 10, 1986.
  6. ^ Jeff Borden, "'New Age Sunday' to Debut on WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, February 7, 1986.
  7. ^ David Perlmutt, "'New Age' Jazz Show Drops Misinterpreted Name," The Charlotte Observer, December 27, 1986.
  8. ^ Jeff Borden, "24-Hour Broadcasting Will Begin at WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, March 12, 1987.
  9. ^ Jeff Borden, "WFAE Replaces Daytime Classical Music with Jazz," The Charlotte Observer, November 26, 1987.
  10. ^ a b Jeff Borden, "Station Manager Leaving WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, June 4, 1988.
  11. ^ Mark Washburn, "WFAE Celebrates 20 Years on the Air," The Charlotte Observer, July 1, 2001, p. 1F.
  12. ^ Diane Suchetka, "WFAE Drops All That Jazz for an All-Talk Format," The Charlotte Observer, November 17, 2000, p. 1B.
  13. ^ "IBOC Update - Dec 22, 2004: Public Radio's WFAE Orders Full HD Radio Package in Charlotte". Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  14. ^ Mark Washburn, "WFAE Adds Jazz to Its Mix," The Charlotte Observer, July 24, 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°17′13″N 80°41′46″W / 35.287°N 80.696°W / 35.287; -80.696