Modern RockNews

WBRU Ends FM Signal, Transitions to Online Stream


 “95.5 WBRU over and out.”

After broadcasting throughout the Southern New England area for more than 30 years, Brown-University-based radio station WBRU’s FM signal has been sold.

The official end of the station came at 11:59 p.m. on August 31 and after a brief break, the new signal owner, Educational Media Foundation (EMF), came online. EMF, a California-based Christian radio broadcasting group, reportedly purchased the signal for $5.63 million according to Radio Survivor. The signal’s call letters have officially been changed to WLVO in the process.


Local news station WPRI reported that the Brown University President Christina Paxson emailed student members and was looking to have the university loan the station money in order to revive it.

“As you know, Brown stands ready to provide the station with a loan that will give you the time to make the necessary changes to the station’s operations,” Paxson wrote. “We have done this in the past, and it has worked out well.”

Tucker Hamilton, a former WBRU member and Brown graduate told WPRI that the decision to sell the signal came after the station’s board voted in favor to sell. He told WPRI the station “felt that the financial problem was so bad that we need to vote to sell the signal.”

A vote to explore other options to fund the station failed to pass and shortly after another vote was passed with a final tally of 30-8 in favor of the sale of the FM signal.

The end of FM

Fans throughout Southern New England used the end of the station’s FM signal as an opportunity to document the historic event. Some documented the last moments with  videos posted on YouTube and others, like Twitter user Alec Silva, decided to take the stream and chop it up so the final hour of WBRU’s signal was available without the music played.

The final hour of WBRU’s FM life was filled with well wishes and heartfelt goodbyes. The last two songs played were “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins and “Fell in Love With a Girl” by The White Stripes.

Not the end of WBRU

Though its presence in the FM space is gone, it’s not the end of the alt-rock station. Its presence will be shifted to a strictly online stream. The streams will be separated between their two stations, Alternative and 360°, and be available 24/7. Alternative will be their alt-rock station and 360 is where everything else will be played. Alternatively, listeners will have the opportunity to listen to the streams via a mobile app in the works.

With the increased online presence, WBRU writes they will expand their coverage of local news and local music. In addition to streams and news coverage, WBRU will add:

  • A new weekly news podcast with exclusive and in-depth stories, including panel discussions with a group of activists and experts who will break down one of the biggest stories of the week and what it means to our listeners.
  • WBRU’s long-running Sunday program ‘The 360 Degree Experience in Sound’ is steadfast in its commitment to the greater Providence and RI black and incarcerated communities. We plan on continuing that on-air tradition by finding another station to carry our Sunday programming and are currently in search of that new signal.
  • A new 360 produced show, Amplifier, will highlight the amazing work of existing Providence organizations that work with Black, Brown and marginalized people.
  • Sound Wave: Rhode Island, a podcast that will explore the rich past and present of the music community in Rhode Island with in-depth interviews, exclusive new music, and interviews to illuminate New England’s musical history. This will be just the first of a new collection of content that is artist-centric and tells interesting stories about a place with an incredible arts community.”
  • A daily email newsletter from WBRU News
  • A full commitment to become a digital hub for the best in local music and events. WBRU will broaden our regular programming as well as expand our role in the local music community.

The end of the FM signal is not the end of WBRU. Its presence will be equal to, if not, greater.

As a bonus, here’s a great rendition of “1979” by Bad Rabbits, out of Boston.


Hensley Carrasco
Hensley graduated from the University of Rhode Island where he was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Good 5 Cent Cigar. He founded the site with hopes to add to the ever-growing digital music newsroom. Hensley generally writes about Hip-Hop, but other genres are not out of his writing spectrum. On the side, Hensley is a photographer, specializing in concert photography.

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