WXPN (88.5 FM) is a non-commercial, public radio station licensed to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that broadcasts an adult album alternative (AAA) radio format, along with many other format shows. WXPN produces World Cafe, a music program distributed by NPR to many non-commercial stations in the United States. The station's call sign, which is often abbreviated to XPN, stands for "Experimental Pennsylvania Network". The broadcast tower used by WXPN is located at (40°02′19.7″N 75°14′12.8″W / 40.038806°N 75.236889°W / 40.038806; -75.236889),[4] in the antenna farm complex in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

Broadcast areaDelaware Valley
Frequency88.5 MHz (HD Radio)
Branding88.5 XPN
FormatAdult album alternative
SubchannelsHD2: XPN2/XPoNential Radio (adult album alternative)
First air date
1945 (carrier current on 730 AM)
1957 on 88.9 FM
Former frequencies
88.9 MHz (1957–1990)[1][2]
Call sign meaning
"Experimental Pennsylvania Network"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID68229
ERP2,650 watts (analog)
105 watts (digital)[3]
HAAT365 meters (1,198 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
40°02′19.7″N 75°14′12.8″W / 40.038806°N 75.236889°W / 40.038806; -75.236889 (WXPN)
Translator(s)See § Translators
Repeater(s)See § Stations
Public license information
WebcastListen live

History Edit

While the University of Pennsylvania has been involved with radio since 1909 when a wireless station was located in Houston Hall,[5][6][7] WXPN itself first came into existence in 1945 as a carrier current station at 730 AM. In 1957, it was granted a full license as a 10-watt college radio station at 88.9 FM in addition to their frequency of 730 AM. From then into the mid-1970s, WXPN was a student activity of the university and as it grew, the station initiated unique programming designs including one of the earliest freeform radio formats, Phase II, in the 1960s. Local DJ Michael Tearson got his start at WXPN in the late 1960s with a radio show The Attic. Tearson went on to replace Dave Herman at WMMR in 1970. In 1975, a controversial broadcast on the talk show The Vegetable Report led to an obscenity complaint with the FCC, which found the charges serious enough to decline renewal of the broadcast license. This incident (December 1975) marked the first time FCC pulled a license on grounds of obscenity. But a citizen's group organized to petition the FCC to consider XPN's unique service, and with a pledge from Penn to create positions for professional staff to run the station, the FCC allowed the license to renew.

With this new staff of five managers, WXPN became a steady fountain of high-quality folk, jazz, new and avant-garde music and public affairs programming produced by a combination of station alumni and community volunteers, with little to no student involvement. Veterans of WXPN that have gone on to notable achievements in other areas include Broadway producer/director Harold Prince (the station's first program director), NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell (former news director); jazz producer Michael Cuscuna (former DJ) and Echoes producers John Diliberto and Kimberly Haas (former producers of Diaspar and other XPN shows).

Shows that have been staples on XPN since the '70s include The Blues Show with Jonny Meister (Saturday nights), Sleepy Hollow (Saturday and Sunday morning quiet music shows), Star's End (ambient and space music Saturday night/Sunday morning) and Amazon Country (lesbian-oriented music and programming on Sunday evening). XPN also broadcasts the Folk Show on Sunday evening, which started at WHAT-FM in 1962 and continued on WDAS-FM, WMMR, WIOQ and WHYY-FM but moved to WXPN in the '90s when WHYY changed to a talk format.

In 1986 the station qualified for membership in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and began the legal process to move from 88.9 to 88.5 on the FM broadcast band in order to increase signal coverage. Beginning the late 1980s, the programming and personnel were shifted from its diverse volunteer voice to full-time salaried programmers. Penn student radio activity is currently carried out on WQHS.

Station Manager Roger LaMay speaking at the station's annual music festival.

In 1988, WXPN started Kids Corner, a daily interactive radio show for kids hosted by Kathy O'Connell. Kids Corner has won numerous awards, including the Peabody Award and the Armstrong Award.

In 2004, WXPN moved to new facilities at 3025 Walnut Street, where the radio station shares space with a music venue called World Cafe Live. (World Cafe Live is an independent for-profit entity that pays a yearly fee to license the World Cafe name from WXPN.)

In October 2015, WXPN and WNTI jointly announced a sales agreement for transfer of ownership of the Hackettstown, New Jersey, public radio station owned by Centenary College. The sale price is $1,250,000 in cash and another $500,000 in underwriting value over 10 years. A Public Service Operating Agreement enabled WXPN to begin using the WNTI transmission facilities to air WXPN programming, effective October 15, 2015.[8] WNTI changed its call sign to WXPJ on May 16, 2016.

Programs Edit

WXPN carries primarily locally originated programs, supplemented by a few nationally syndicated shows.[9] The station's weekday programs are all produced by its own staff, including World Cafe, a show developed and hosted by WXPN host David Dye and now distributed by NPR.[10] The station also produces most of its night and weekend specialty programs, including Kids Corner with Kathy O'Connell, The Geator's Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues Express with legendary Philadelphia DJ Jerry Blavat, The Blues Show with Jonny Meister, The Folk Show with Ian Zolitor and Sleepy Hollow, an early morning program of quiet music. The station's syndicated offerings include The Grateful Dead Hour with David Gans, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, Echoes with John Diliberto and Mountain Stage with Larry Groce.[9]

Q'zine, produced and hosted by Robert Drake since 1996, is a voice for the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia. The program originated as Sunshine Gaydreams, later shortened to Gaydreams, in 1974.[11]

WXPN also broadcasts the Penn Quakers men's basketball games.[12]

From August 15 to August 18, 2019, WXPN broadcast a "Woodstock — As It Happened — 50 Years On" weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival. It used all of the festival's archived audio in "as close to real time as possible", using newly reconstructed audio archives of each of Woodstock's 32 performances.[13]

Stations Edit

One full-power station (WXPH) is licensed to simulcast the programming of WXPN full-time. One full-power station (WXPJ) currently has a Public Service Operating Agreement to simulcast the programming of WXPN.

Call sign Frequency City of license Facility ID Class ERP
(m (ft))
Transmitter coordinates
WXPH[a] 88.7 FM[b] Middletown, Pennsylvania 87834 B 7,000 vert, 75 horiz (analog)
279 (digital)[14]
216 m (709 ft) 40°02′7.4″N 76°37′17.9″W / 40.035389°N 76.621639°W / 40.035389; -76.621639 (WXPH)
WKHS[c] 90.5 FM Worton, Maryland 6057 B1 17,500[15] 66 m (217 ft) 39°16′55″N 76°5′26″W / 39.28194°N 76.09056°W / 39.28194; -76.09056 (WKHS)
WXPJ[d] 91.9 FM[b] Hackettstown, New Jersey 9759 B1 5,400 (analog)
216 (digital)[16]
167 m (548 ft) 40°51′8.3″N 74°52′23.6″W / 40.852306°N 74.873222°W / 40.852306; -74.873222 (WXPJ)
  1. ^ WXPH covers York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Hanover and the surrounding area.
  2. ^ a b Transmits in HD Radio
  3. ^ WKHS only simulcasts WXPN on weekends, overnight hours and throughout the summer. Covers the Eastern Shore of Maryland, New Castle County, Delaware, Kent County, Delaware, Baltimore, Annapolis, Easton, and Havre de Grace.
  4. ^ WXPJ covers Hackettstown, northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Translators Edit

WXPN programming is broadcast on the following translators:

Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility ID Class ERP
(m (ft))
Transmitter coordinates Rebroadcasts
W259AU 99.7 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 153367 D 10 209.2 meters (686 ft) 40°18′20.3″N 77°00′25.9″W / 40.305639°N 77.007194°W / 40.305639; -77.007194 (W259AU) WXPH
W285DH 104.9 North Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania 69361 D 13 105 m (344 ft) 40°40′22.3″N 75°34′40.6″W / 40.672861°N 75.577944°W / 40.672861; -75.577944 (W285DH) WXPN

From 1993 to 2007, the WXPH call sign was used on 88.1 in Harrisburg, now WZXM.[17] WXPN traded that facility to Four Rivers Community Broadcasting in return for 88.7 Middletown and W259AU.[18]

Portions of WXPN's schedule are simulcast on WKHS 90.5 FM, Worton, Maryland (Eastern Shore Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore, Maryland areas).


XPN2/XPoNential Radio is an Adult Album Alternative radio station broadcast on the HD2 channels of WXPN in Philadelphia and WXPH in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The station is also syndicated to several other public radio stations, which air it on their HD2 or HD3 channels.[19]

History Edit

On May 2, 2007, WXPN launched an indie rock format on its HD2 channel, branded as "Y-Rock on XPN".[20] Y-Rock on XPN featured on-air personalities originally from Philadelphia radio station WPLY 100.3 FM, branded as "Y100". WPLY owner Radio One changed the station's format in 2005, ending the alternative rock format. Y-Rock on XPN was the latest incarnation of the Y100 brand[21] that originally aired on WPLY, which was the market's alternative rock station from 1995 until 2005.

In mid-June 2010, "Y-Rock on XPN" programming was cancelled due to budget cuts.[22] The "Y-Rock on XPN" branding officially changed to XPN2 at midnight, June 15, 2011.[23] The HD2 channel and companion online stream would later be re-branded as "XpoNential Radio".


In 1970, WXPN-AM's operations moved from Houston Hall, directly in the center of campus, to 3905 Spruce Street. The FM radio station became professionally run by 1980, with former students and community volunteers staffing the station, while the AM radio station was still student-run. WXPN-AM then became WQHS, which stands for Quad Hill Superblock (referring to student dormitories on campus). As of September 2005, the radio station is located on the 5th floor of the Hollenback Center, on the far east side of campus.

In 2003, the WQHS radio tower, formerly on top of Harnwell College House, fell in a severe storm. As a result, WQHS now broadcasts exclusively over the Internet, in an eclectic freeform radio format.

References Edit

  1. ^ "WXPN Facility Data". FCCData.org.
  2. ^ "FCC History Cards for WXPN".
  3. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WXPN]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. December 3, 2014. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  4. ^ "FM Query Results [WXPN]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  5. ^ "The Wireless Club Station – UP". Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  6. ^ "A Brief History of the Club". Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  7. ^ "The Wireless Club" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  8. ^ "WXPN Picks Up Centenary College's WNTI". RadioWorld.com. Archived from the original on 2015-10-13. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  9. ^ a b "XPN Program Guide". xpn.org. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  10. ^ "David Dye, NPR Biography". National Public Radio website. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  11. ^ "Q'zine". xpn.org. Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  12. ^ "Penn Basketball". xpn.org. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  13. ^ Warren, Bruce (August 14, 2019). "And now, your schedule for #XPNStock: The 50th anniversary broadcast of Woodstock". xpn.org. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  14. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WXPH]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. October 18, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  15. ^ "WKHS". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. October 18, 2018. Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  16. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WXPJ]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. October 19, 2016. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  17. ^ "Call Sign History [WZXM]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  18. ^ "Northeast Radio Watch, June 25, 2007". Fybush.com. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  19. ^ https://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=16 Archived 2017-01-11 at the Wayback Machine HD Radio Guide for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  20. ^ "WXPN Launches Y-Rock as HD2 Channel". RadioWorld.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-31. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  21. ^ "Dept. of Sad Face". Philadelphia City Paper. June 16, 2010.[dead link]
  22. ^ "NorthEast Radio Watch, June 14, 2010". Fybush.com. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  23. ^ "Just Announced: Y-Rock On XPN to change its name to XPN2 at midnight". TheKey.xpn.org. Retrieved 2016-04-29.

External links Edit


40°02′20″N 75°14′13″W / 40.038806°N 75.236889°W / 40.038806; -75.236889