WNEC 91.7 FM first began as the New England College Radio Club in the mid 1960’s. In 1969, two members of the Radio Club, Phil Reeder and Bob Jewell, worked with New England College President Jere Chase to create a formal plan for a college radio station that became WNEC-FM.
Construction began in the basement of the Danforth Library after the Federal Communications Commission issued a construction permit to build a Class D, 10 watt non-commercial educational FM radio station on September 11, 1970. Phil Reeder designed the studios to include one for broadcasting and another for production and training. WNEC also had an Associated Press teletype for the latest news.
On February 9, 1971, the FCC authorized the station to turn on their transmitter and WNEC, 91.7 FM, came to life. At that time roughly 20 hours a week were devoted to educational programming, which included faculty lectures and student-written programs. Music soon became a regular part of daily programming.
In the late 70’s WNEC increased its wattage to 150 watts. To help raise awareness and funds that could aid in purchasing a new antenna to complete the transmitter upgrade, students hosted a radio-thon. One student, Jamey Poss, was actually on the air for 91.7 hours straight (96 hours in total)!
In 1994, with the construction of a new student facility complete, the studios and offices of WNEC were moved to the Simon Center’s third level, leaving the transmitter and antenna to remain at the library. In 2011 internet streaming was added and the 17 year old broadcast board was replaced with an Audioarts AIR3 board. Today there is also a Sage Digital Endec for EAS broadcasts.
The station currently broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year mostly by automated programming. The station manages a 30 year archive of station ID’s and promos incorporated in the automation.
Over the years, WNEC-FM has sponsored many concerts on campus, most notably Muddy Waters, Dickey Betts (of the Allman Brothers), Joan Armatrading, and Face to Face.