The radio network airs primarily news and talk from NPR and brands itself on-air as "WNPR." It is headquartered with CPTV in Hartford, and operates an additional studio in New Haven.
The headquarters of WNPR and CPTV in Hartford, Connecticut
In the early 1970s, WTIC-AM in Hartford dropped its longtime classical music format in favor of adult contemporary music, and sold its library to CPTV. Looking for a way to put the library to use, CPTV decided to get into radio. At the time, while Hartford got a fairly decent signal from WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and much of southwestern Connecticut was covered by WNYC-AM-FM in New York City, most of the rest of the state didn't even get a grade B signal from an NPR station. New Haven, for instance, had to content itself with a translator of WFCR on 90.5 FM. Finding available frequencies proved difficult, however. In addition to the crowded state of the noncommercial end of the FM dial in the Northeast, there was a considerable glut of 10-watt stations in the state. Ultimately, CPTV bought the 90.5 frequency from the Friends of WFCR, the New Haven group that owned the WFCR translator, and used it as the linchpin for what would become Connecticut Public Radio.
The network's first station, WPBH, signed on in June 1978. The station was licensed to Meriden, halfway between Hartford and New Haven, in order to serve both cities (Hartford and New Haven, then as now, are separate radio markets). CPBI originally wanted the WNPR calls, but the FCC turned it down due to objections from WPLR in New Haven, who claimed the calls sounded too similar. It became WPKT in 1984 after board chairman Homer Babbidge requested the FCC change the call letters to honor CPBN head Paul K. Taff.
WNPR (89.1 FM) in Norwich followed in 1981, WEDW-FM (88.5 FM) in Stamford in 1985 and WRLI-FM (91.3 FM) on Long Island in 1993.
On September 15, 2011, WPKT and WNPR swapped call letters. Although 90.5 FM has always been the flagship station, the network had been using WNPR as its on-air name since the 1990s.
For the first 20 years of its existence, the network broadcast a mix of classical music, jazz and NPR talk. However, starting in the late 1990s, WNPR began gradually increasing the news programming on its schedule. One of the first casualties of this change was the popular classical music program Morning pro musica, which was fed from WGBH-FM in Boston. The program had aired on WNPR as part of the terms by which the Friends of WFCR sold the 90.5 frequency to CPBI. However, by the late 1990s, this resulted in WNPR only being able to run the first hour of Morning Edition. Ultimately, WNPR decided to cancel Morning pro musica, even though network executives knew it would cause a major loss in funding. However, they were vindicated to some extent when the September 11 attacks created a greater demand for news programming. Ultimately, in 2006, WNPR dropped classical music altogether in favor of a full-time news and information format. In 2013, the station launched a new online service WNPR News at wnpr.org.
WAIC (91.9 FM) is the college radio station of American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. WAIC first went on air in February 1967, going stereo in 1985. Initially programmed from American International College (at various points programming top 40 and adult hits), it became a full-time relay of Connecticut Public Radio on November 1, 2011.
WNPR features the programs Where We Live, The Colin McEnroe Show, The Faith Middleton Show and The Needle Drop. All are based out of Hartford except The Faith Middleton Show, which has been based at the New Haven studio since it first went on the air. The station also syndicates NPR programming.
WAIC-91.9 FM Springfield, MA 1749 230 watts
WEDW-FM-88.5 FM Stamford, CT 2,000 watts
WNPR-90.5 FM (HD) Meriden, CT 18,500 watts
WPKT-89.1 FM (HD) Norwich, CT 5,100 watts
WRLI-FM-91.3 FM Southampton, NY 10,000 watts
W258AC-99.5 Storrs, CT 10 watts