WTJU to Celebrate New Home With a Guinness World Record Attempt

March 21, 2019 By Caroline Newman, news@virginia.edu Caroline Newman, news@virginia.edu

The University of Virginia’s student- and community-run radio station has a new home – and it’s celebrating with a Guinness World Record attempt.

On Saturday at noon, more than 80 student and community DJs will gather at the new studio on Ivy Road to simultaneously present one radio show, which would break the current record of 60 simultaneous DJs, held by a station in England.

“This gives us a chance to air the voices of scores of volunteers who make WTJU possible,” station general manager Nathan Moore said. “And what better way to celebrate our move into 2244 Ivy Road?”

Moore standing at the entrance of WTJU 91.1fm
Moore is excited to welcome students and community members to the new and improved space.

The station, formerly housed in Lambeth Commons, will now occupy a 2,600-square-foot, two-story space, previously home to the independent video rental store Sneak Reviews.

“Sneak Reviews was a funky Charlottesville institution, which very much fits with WTJU,” Moore said. “We are really glad for the chance to infuse that space with the same kind of independent energy and ethos.”

Radio station equipment
Student DJs have been broadcasting on WTJU and WXTJ for more than 60 years.

A handful of students started WTJU in 1957, in a small first-floor studio in Old Cabell Hall. It was UVA’s first FM station and just the second in Charlottesville. Today, its 24/7 broadcast schedule features both community and student DJs, as well as an entirely student-run affiliate station, WXTJ. WTJU airs on 91.1 FM; WXTJ on 100.1 FM.

Both stations are non-commercial, funded by a combination of private donations, grants and University support. Combined, they have about 300 volunteer student and community radio hosts and play more than 1,100 unique songs per week, far more than the 100 songs played on average commercial stations.

Stage with bookshelves full of vinyl records
The new space includes a live studio for student and community performances, continuing a tradition of Friday night live shows.

The new space has two live studios – one for WTJU and one for WXTJ – and two production studios, plus a stage for live performances. The station plans to continue its tradition of Friday night live performances and open the space to student bands, music groups, spoken word poets and other artists.

“We hope to bring in a mix of student and community artists and really provide a space for people to come together and make and experience independent music,” Moore said.

The station’s new home also provides storage for its more than 40,000 vinyl records, 35,000 CDs and a server full of MP3 files – so many that Moore says they have enough MP3s to play for four years without a repeat.

Bookshelf full of vinyl albums
The station embraces all sorts of technology, including more than 40,000 vinyl records.

“We play both old and new technology, which I think contributes to the great variety of WTJU and WXTJ,” he said. “That diversity is our hallmark, with all sorts of genres – punk, jazz, classical, gospel, pop, rock – creating a really beautiful mix.”

Another hallmark, Moore said, is the community experience streaming services like Spotify or Pandora simply cannot offer.

“Even though technology around us continues to evolve – and we change with it – people continue to seek human curation and the communal experience of listening to something together,” he said. “Radio, especially local radio, will connect you to a place, to other people and to a live experience that brings communities closer.”