WNYE started out as a high-frequency Apex band station in 1938, switching to 42.1 MHz in the old FM band in 1942. In 1946, it moved to 91.7 MHz, in today's current FM band. Then in 1948, it settled at 91.5 MHz.
The station's original licensee was the New York City Board of Education, and as such WNYE-FM was a laboratory devoted to programming designed for the City's public school system. As time went on, WNYE-FM also broadcast adult learning, community-interest and ethnic programming as well. The station's studios and transmitter were originally located within Brooklyn Technical High School; in the middle-1970s the studios were moved to nearby George Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn.
In December 2004, the Department of Education transferred the licenses of the WNYE stations to the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The transfer integrated WNYE-FM-TV's operations with those of the city-owned cable television services CUNY-TV and Crosswalks Television Network, combining them to form the NYC Media Group. WNYE-FM's programming format remained largely unchanged at that time, but in March 2007 the station was rebranded as "Radio New York, WNYE 91.5 FM," and in 2009 it launched its digital programming with a new transmitter located at the Condé Nast Building (4 Times Square).
On February 11, 2008, the station management announced a partnership with Seattle-based station KEXP-FM to produce a new format branded as Radio Liberation, featuring indie rock music simulcast from KEXP. The format started on March 24, 2008, replacing a number of NPR, BBC and Public Radio International shows.
On June 1, 2011 KEXP was replaced with The Alternate Side from Fordham University's WFUV. It features Adult album alternative and indie rock programming.
As part of WNYE's programming, on weekday afternoons it airs the World Cafe (radio program) from WXPN Philadelphia and "The Diane Rehm Show," a news and interview program from WAMU Washington, D.C. Some hours, WNYE carries newscasts from NPR. Overnight, BBC World Service news is heard.