WFAE (90.7 MHz) is a non-commercial public radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is the main NPR news and information affiliate in the Charlotte region. The station's main radio studio and offices are at One University Place in the University City neighborhood of northeast Charlotte.[2] A satellite studio is at Spirit Square on North College Street in downtown Charlotte.

WFAE 90.7 logo.png
CityCharlotte, North Carolina
Broadcast areaCharlotte metropolitan area
Frequency90.7 MHz (HD Radio)
Branding90.7 WFAE
FormatFM/HD1: News/Talk
SubchannelsHD2: The Charlotte Jazz Channel
HD3: PRX Remix
OwnerUniversity Radio Foundation, Inc.
First air date
April 18, 1977 (1977-04-18) (originally carrier current c. 1971-1977)
Former frequencies
90.9 MHz (1977–1979)
Call sign meaning
W Fine Arts Education[1]
Technical information
Facility ID69436
ERP100,000 watts
HAAT331 meters (1,086 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
35°17′14.5″N 80°41′44.2″W / 35.287361°N 80.695611°W / 35.287361; -80.695611 (WFAE)Coordinates: 35°17′14.5″N 80°41′44.2″W / 35.287361°N 80.695611°W / 35.287361; -80.695611 (WFAE)
Translator(s)See § Translators
Repeater(s)See § Stations
WebcastListen Live

WFAE has an effective radiated power (ERP) of 100,000 watts, the maximum for non-grandfathered FM stations. The transmitter is located in northeastern Mecklenburg County.[3] WFAE broadcasts using HD Radio technology.[4] Its HD-2 digital subchannel has a jazz format and its HD-3 subchannel carries the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) Remix.


On weekdays, WFAE has all news and information programming. It carries NPR's national shows such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, 1A, Here and Now, The Takeaway and Marketplace, along with the BBC World Service heard overnight. WFAE produces an hour-long weekday call-in program, Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins, heard live at 9 a.m. and repeated at 7 p.m. Frequent news updates come from NPR and the WFAE news staff.

On weekends, WFAE features specialty programs. Weekly NPR shows include Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Ask Me Another, The TED Radio Hour, On The Media and The New Yorker Radio Hour. Sunday evenings include the New Age music and Electronica show Echoes.


Student-run stationEdit

On April 18, 1977, WFAE first signed on the air.[5] It was the student radio service of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, broadcasting classical music and jazz with only 10 watts. It was originally on 90.9 MHz from a transmitter atop the library building. It succeeded a student-run carrier current station known as "WVFN" (Voice of the Forty Niners), which operated from the basement of the Cone University Center.[citation needed] As of 1976, the station had reduced the amount of Top 40 music and increased jazz programming.[6]

The outlet was limited by its small budget, $25,000 a year, all collected from UNCC student fees. And its reach was limited to only the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods.[7][8]

NPR affiliationEdit

Charlotte did not have an NPR station in the region until South Carolina Educational Radio outlet WPRV (now WNSC-FM) launched from a transmitter at Rock Hill on January 3, 1978.[9] Initially broadcasting instructional programs during the day, that station went full-time in July.[10]

In September 1978, WFAE secured Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval to move to 90.7 MHz with a full 100,000 watts.[11] However, construction of the upgraded facility was hindered by state procurement delays.[12]

High power debutEdit

The station went off the air on December 7, 1979, to allow construction of its full-power facility to begin.[13] It returned at full power on June 29, 1981.[14] On that day, it became North Carolina's third full NPR member station, alongside WFDD in the Piedmont Triad and WUNC in the Triangle.

In addition to NPR programs, the new station aired jazz during the day with classical music at night and on Sundays. Later, jazz was moved to night.[15] The station grew rapidly, and within five years moved to its current larger studios in the One University Place building near the UNC Charlotte campus.

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.[16] The show was called "New Age Sunday" at first, but the station dropped that name to distance itself from the new age spiritual movement.[17] In 1987, WFAE began broadcasting 24 hours a day[18] and began airing more jazz, dropping classical music because WDAV played it.[19][20] 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.[20]

Foundation controlEdit

WFAE's growth occurred amid financial uncertainty. UNC Charlotte was eventually forced to end support for the station due to a budget crunch. On April 15, 1993, 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.

More News, Less MusicEdit

In 1996, WFAE largely dropped music in favor of a news/talk. 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, it launched Charlotte Talks, hosted by longtime WBT host Mike Collins. Charlotte Talks is a popular local show that focuses on local issues and figures and airs live at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. It soon became "the de facto talk show of record in Charlotte".[21]

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.[22]

Weekend programmingEdit

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 p.m. 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.

HD RadioEdit

In 2004, WFAE became the first station in Charlotte and the first public radio station in North Carolina to broadcast using HD Radio.[23] 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.[24]

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

WFAE LeadershipEdit

Current Leadership

  • Joe O’Connor, President and CEO
  • Ju-Don Marshall, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer
  • Richard Lancaster, President of the Board of Directors
  • Nick Wharton, Vice President of the Board of Directors

Charlotte Talks

  • Mike Collins, host
  • Wendy Herkey, executive producer

Previous WFAE General Managers

  • Robert “Bo” Pittman
  • Jennifer Roth
  • Jon Schwartz
  • Roger Sarow

Previous Program Directors

  • Jennifer Roth
  • Paul Stribling
  • Dale Spear


WFAE has won multiple regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in the years, 2014, 2017 and 2018 and 2020.[25][26][27][28] WFAE has also won Sunshine Award for Journalism in 2017.[29]

Additional StationsEdit

In addition to WFAE's primary 100,000 watt signal, there is one full-power station 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′59.4″N 81°26′39.3″W / 35.849833°N 81.444250°W / 35.849833; -81.444250 (WFHE) December 19, 1994


WFAE programming is broadcast on the following translators:

Broadcast translators of WFAE
Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility
(m (ft))
Class Transmitter coordinates FCC info
W229BD 93.7 Southern Pines, North Carolina 148046 10 94.2 m (309 ft) D 35°07′36.5″N 79°23′44.1″W / 35.126806°N 79.395583°W / 35.126806; -79.395583 (W229BD) FCC LMS
W291BM 106.1 Laurinburg, North Carolina 147924 80 51.7 m (170 ft) D 34°45′38.6″N 79°25′8.2″W / 34.760722°N 79.418944°W / 34.760722; -79.418944 (W291BM) FCC LMS


  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". Archived from the original on 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  5. ^ "UNCC Radio Station Goes On The Air April 18". The Charlotte News. April 2, 1977. p. 4A. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  6. ^ Maschal, Richard (February 15, 1976). "Beethoven Is Bumping Rock 'n' Roll" Check |url= value (help). The Charlotte Observer. p. 1C.
  7. ^ "A gift for your ears". The Charlotte News. December 28, 1977. p. 16. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  8. ^ Colver, Bob (January 4, 1978). "Public Radio in Charlotte: Where does it stand today?". The Charlotte News. p. 16. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  9. ^ Schumpert, Mary (January 3, 1978). "2 Stations Reach Out To Teach". The Charlotte Observer. p. 13A. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Colver, Bob (July 14, 1978). "Heartbeat of public radio is sounding stronger". The Charlotte News. p. 4. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  11. ^ FCC History Cards for WFAE
  12. ^ Alridge, Ron (August 14, 1979). "A Higher Powered WFAE Runs Into Red-Tape Delay". Charlotte Observer. p. 13A. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  13. ^ Alridge, Ron (June 11, 1980). "WFAE-FM Receives $50,000 For Transmitting Tower, Studio". Charlotte Observer. p. 17A. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  14. ^ "Welcome back, WFAE". The Charlotte News. June 29, 1981. p. 6. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Kathy Haight, "Jazz Turns Hot As Charlotte Warms to the Sound," The Charlotte Observer, October 10, 1986.
  16. ^ Jeff Borden, "'New Age Sunday' to Debut on WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, February 7, 1986.
  17. ^ David Perlmutt, "'New Age' Jazz Show Drops Misinterpreted Name," The Charlotte Observer, December 27, 1986.
  18. ^ Jeff Borden, "24-Hour Broadcasting Will Begin at WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, March 12, 1987.
  19. ^ Jeff Borden, "WFAE Replaces Daytime Classical Music with Jazz," The Charlotte Observer, November 26, 1987.
  20. ^ a b Jeff Borden, "Station Manager Leaving WFAE," The Charlotte Observer, June 4, 1988.
  21. ^ Mark Washburn, "WFAE Celebrates 20 Years on the Air," The Charlotte Observer, July 1, 2001, p. 1F.
  22. ^ Diane Suchetka, "WFAE Drops All That Jazz for an All-Talk Format," The Charlotte Observer, November 17, 2000, p. 1B.
  23. ^ "IBOC Update - Dec 22, 2004: Public Radio's WFAE Orders Full HD Radio Package in Charlotte". Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  24. ^ Mark Washburn, "WFAE Adds Jazz to Its Mix," The Charlotte Observer, July 24, 2008.
  25. ^ "WFAE Wins Two Regional Murrow Awards". WFAE 90.7 - Charlotte's NPR News Source. 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  26. ^ "WFAE Wins 4 Regional Murrow Awards". WFAE 90.7 - Charlotte's NPR News Source. 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  27. ^ "WFAE Wins Three Regional Murrow Awards". WFAE 90.7 - Charlotte's NPR News Source. 2020-05-12. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  28. ^ "WFAE's Lisa Worf, Sarah Delia Earn Edward R. Murrow Awards". WFAE 90.7 - Charlotte's NPR News Source. 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  29. ^ "WFAE's Lisa Worf Wins Sunshine Award". WFAE 90.7 - Charlotte's NPR News Source. 2017-03-13. Retrieved 2021-05-26.

External linksEdit