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CityRocky Mount, North Carolina
Broadcast areaRocky Mount
BrandingWUNC, North Carolina Public Radio
SloganBringing the world home to you
Frequency91.9 MHz (HD Radio)
First air dateApril 1992 (as WESQ)
FormatPublic radio
ERP7,500 watts
HAAT191 meters (627 ft)
Facility ID49158
Transmitter coordinates35°48′40″N 77°44′33″W / 35.81111°N 77.74250°W / 35.81111; -77.74250
Callsign meaningRocKY (Q) Mount
Former callsignsWESQ (1992–1996)
OwnerUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(WUNC Public Radio, LLC)

WRQM (90.9 FM) is a radio station broadcasting National Public Radio (NPR) programming originating from WUNC. Licensed to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, United States, it serves the Rocky Mount area. The station has been owned by WUNC Public Radio since 1999, though for its first seven years it was an independent public radio station based in Rocky Mount.


At North Carolina Wesleyan College

On November 1, 1988, North Carolina Wesleyan College applied for a construction permit to build a new radio station in Rocky Mount. The station was conceived to fill the void left when WVSP, which was licensed to Warrenton but had moved its studios to Rocky Mount in 1985, shuttered in 1987. The college had initially gotten involved in efforts to keep WVSP in operation, but instead, it put together a new community group to build a new public radio station; among the members in 1989 were several people formerly associated with Sound and Print United, which owned WVSP.[1]

WESQ was granted its construction permit in 1990, and the station was taking shape in temporary facilities—a trailer beside the NCWC Student Activities Center—by 1991.[2] Wesleyan was in the process of building a new fine arts building to house the station and a 1,200-seat auditorium.[3] The station signed on in April 1992; in November, it brought NPR programming back to the region through a collaboration with WTEB in New Bern.[4]

Friends of Down East Public Radio

The station's history took a turn in 1995 when North Carolina Wesleyan College decided to cease funding the station and cut all ties;[5] the school said it had failed to find a way to integrate WESQ into its curriculum, and that running costs had been too high.[6] A not-for-profit business group, Friends of Down East Public Radio, Inc., stepped in to buy the station from NCWC.[7][6]

Friends of Down East signed a lease agreement to move WESQ off the NCWC campus and into a city-owned building at downtown Rocky Mount that was formerly the headquarters of the Coastal Plains Life Insurance Company, though the property was also the site of a proposed library that would have required its demolition.[8] The station went off the air on December 25 in order to prepare for the move to the new site,[9] where a 180-foot (55 m) tower donated by the city of Tarboro was erected so the station could send programs to the transmitter.[10]

On April 1, 1996, the station returned as WRQM with NPR newsman and North Carolina native Carl Kasell joining local dignitaries,[11] but the transmitter failed after two hours and the station returned to the air the next day.[12] However, fundraising contributions were not as high as initially hoped;[13] the 1997 spring fundraiser, while labeled a "success", still missed its goal by nearly $10,000.[14] Additionally, the station had fewer than five full-time staff, which almost prompted NPR to drop the station as a full member for not meeting its criteria.[15]

Sale to WUNC

In September 1998, the city of Rocky Mount began preparing to construct the library planned for the WRQM studio site.[16] While the station was able to find a potential location for a new studio, a studio-to-transmitter link to the transmitter site on Temperance Road could not be set up from the proposed new facilities.[17] Furthermore, the station was $135,000 in debt. By December, the station was weighing two merger offers: one from WTEB and one from WUNC.[18] The board unanimously selected the WUNC bid.[19] WUNC announced its intention to continue to offer local programming on WRQM,[20] though WUNC began programming the station from Chapel Hill on March 24, 1999 under a time-share agreement, with two workers and a handful of local productions continuing in Rocky Mount for the time being.[21] However, because of the loss of the former WRQM studios and state contracting policies preventing WUNC from leasing space for a studio in Rocky Mount, WUNC was approved to operate WRQM as a full-time satellite in 2001,[17] which it operates as to this day.


  1. ^ Hoskinson, Charles (April 29, 1989). "Wesleyan College officials not sure what is next in getting radio station". Rocky Mount Telegram. p. 1. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Anderson, Will (October 6, 1991). "On The Air: Prepare to tune in to WESQ — NCWC's new student radio station". Rocky Mount Telegram. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  3. ^ Anderson, Will (October 6, 1991). "Fine arts building will give cultural boost to area". Rocky Mount Telegram. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  4. ^ "WESQ brings NPR to immediate area". Rocky Mount Telegram. November 7, 1992. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Vinh, Tan (May 11, 1995). "Local public radio may go silent". p. 1. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Gollobin, Kelly (July 13, 1995). "WESQ has potential new owner". Rocky Mount Telegram. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  7. ^ "WESQ gains new owners and life". Rocky Mount Telegram. July 14, 1995. p. 4. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  8. ^ Eckard, J. Eric (September 26, 1995). "Public radio WESQ gets new Rocky Mount home". Rocky Mount Telegram. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  9. ^ "WESQ off air until '96". Rocky Mount Telegram. December 24, 1995. p. 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  10. ^ Murphy, Tom (October 6, 1995). "New transmitting tower will aid radio station shift". Rocky Mount Telegram. p. 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  11. ^ "NPR announcer set to visit WRQM-FM". Rocky Mount Telegram. March 31, 1996. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  12. ^ "RM public radio back on airways". Rocky Mount Telegram. April 3, 1996. p. 1. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Reedy, Martha (July 29, 1996). "WRQM takes to airwaves in major fund-raising project". p. 1. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  14. ^ Reedy, Martha (May 15, 1997). "Station labels drive a success". Rocky Mount Telegram. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  15. ^ "WRQM gets go-ahead to continue". Rocky Mount Telegram. July 29, 1997. p. 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  16. ^ Murphy, Tom (September 25, 1998). "More contributions needed for library". Rocky Mount Telegram. pp. 1A, 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  17. ^ a b WRQM main studio waiver grant, 2001
  18. ^ Moran, Christine (December 6, 1998). "WRQM's fate to be decided Wednesday". Rocky Mount Telegram. pp. 1A, 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  19. ^ Moran, Christine (December 10, 1998). "WRQM merges with WUNC radio". Rocky Mount Telegram. pp. 1A, 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Gelder, Austin (March 28, 1999). "WRQM turning over to WUNC". p. 8. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  21. ^ Chandler, Ross (March 29, 1999). "WRQM finds life in WUNC's fold". p. 1A, 2A. Retrieved September 20, 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 November 2019, at 10:28
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