Sounds, Original at WFMU

The story behind one station's singular sound

January 11, 2015

Want to start your own podcast? If you're trying to figure out how to start an original show, you might want to tune in to WFMU for some inspiration. It's a small station with a big reputation for innovation. Long-time station manager Ken Freedman says the heart of what makes the station unique is the spontaneity that can only come from "live, human radio."

WFMU broadcasts out of Jersey City, and streams online. Freedman says the station was also "podcasting before podcasting was podcasting." People used to mail cassette tapes with recordings of the station's programs to their friends around the world. WFMU was an early adopter of podcast technology, with more than a dozen podcasts now.

“At WFMU, the management is encouraging people to go to extremes,” Freedman says, that's part of what keeps the station's sound so unique. Although most of the DJs work for free, there's stiff competition to get on the air. Once a show makes the cut, Freedman says he gives the hosts time to find their voice and their audience. “I do give programs a long time to prove themselves… It takes two to three years for a radio program or a podcast to develop a following.”