Our History

In December of 1951, a radio station with the call letters WFMT made its debut on Chicago’s airwaves. Founders Bernie and Rita Jacobs had a vision: to create a station they themselves could enjoy, respect, and share with others. WFMT would strive to entertain, engage, and above all, respect its listeners with a quality and variety of programming found nowhere else.

Today, WFMT is one of the world’s most respected classical music radio stations, accessible via broadcast at 98.7FM, streaming live at wfmt.com, and on the WFMT app. Recognized for trusted hosted programming, immersive live performances and concerts, strong partnerships with community organizations and championing young, local musicians and access to the arts, WFMT spotlights inspiring music, musicians, and musical performances from Chicago and around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and many more. WFMT produces original series from its studios in Chicago, including weekly series Sounds ClassicalWFMT Presents, and Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin. WFMT produces live folk and singer-songwriter programming including Folkstage and, almost 70 years after its creation by Mike Nichols, The Midnight Special‘s blend of folk music, comedy, and satire continues to draw new listeners with host Marilyn Rea Beyer. As a strong and treasured Chicago cultural organization, WFMT also syndicates audio programs about arts and culture for radio stations and other platforms around the world through the WFMT Radio Network.

WFMT’s purpose – to enrich lives, engage communities, and inspire exploration – is fueled by membership support. With a shared commitment to and love for music that sparks curiosity, celebrates diversity, and soothes the soul, WFMT will continue to take listeners on an entertaining and fun journey of discovery – to inspire people of all ages to explore different kinds of music – for years to come.