WBUR-FM went on the air at 4 p.m. on March 1, 1950, as a 400-watt non-commercial educational station licensed to Boston University. In its early years, the WBUR staff comprised amateurs, professionals, volunteers and students.
Through the 1960s, more and more radio professionals joined WBUR and gradually transformed the station’s format. By 1971, WBUR had enough full-time employees to qualify for status as a public radio station and applied to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for certification.
In 1980, the station began to receive programming from NPR via satellite. By 1982, WBUR had established its identity as a news station, with NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered broadcast each weekday and local news programming produced by a staff of young reporters.
These changes coincided with the significant recognition WBUR began to receive at the local and national levels. In 1984, the station won three Associated Press awards for news coverage. In May 1986, WBUR won the 1985 George Foster Peabody Award, the most prestigious national award for broadcasters, for "Liberation Remembered," a four-part series on the Holocaust. WBUR has won the Peabody Award twice more since then, including an award for Car Talk in 1993.
In March 1999, WBUR-FM was named "News Station of the Year" by the New England Associated Press, an award it has since received three times from both the Regional AP and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
Today, WBUR broadcasts with an effective radiated power of 60,000 watts. The station has continued to grow substantially in size and stature. WBUR now reaches 7 million listeners across the country each week with two national programs, On Point, hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti (10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday; rebroadcast 7 to 9 p.m.), and Here & Now, hosted by Robin Young and Tonya Mosley (12 noon to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday). A pioneering podcaster, The WBUR iLab produces critically acclaimed shows like Endless Thread, Anything For Selena, Circle Round, and Consider This, the first national-local daily news podcast. In addition to these award-winning programs is another daily offering, Radio Boston, hosted by Tiziana Dearing (3 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday). Also broadcasted from WBUR studios on a weekly basis is the fêted Car Talk (Saturdays 11 a.m. to noon).
WBUR can also be heard outside Greater Boston on 89.1 FM Brewster, Cape Cod and 92.7 FM, Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard; as well as live streaming at wbur.org.