88.9 WSND-FM Mission Statement
As the "Sound of Notre Dame," WSND-FM strives to serve as a bridge between the University of Notre Dame and the surrounding Michiana community. To this end, we seek to provide a variety of music both new and old and cover issues of interest to inspire a spirit of conversation and community among our listening audience. As representatives of a Catholic university, our identity as a universally- accessible meeting ground for members of the student body and the broader community is an important part of our reason for broadcasting, and we will do our best to meet that ideal in a knowledgeable, friendly, and professional manner.
The History of WSND-FM 88.9
The roots of WSND-FM can be traced back to 1935, when the Golden Age of radio was in full swing and Notre Dame students were eager to get in on the action. The Notre Dame Radio Club was formed to give Notre Dame students the opportunity to produce shows for several area radio stations. Eventually, this experience inspired a small group of Notre Dame students who wanted the chance to operate an entire radio station.
With the advent of carrier-current technology in the late 1940's, colleges around the country produced programming on campus, which was linked to the dormitories through the electrical system. Notre Dame became one of the first universities in America to use this method in 1947. The station was called WND and aired a mix of programming for two hours a day, five days a week. After several attempts to find a location around campus, WND found a home in the old Fieldhouse. In 1950, WND took an important step in becoming a legitimate broadcast entity by accepting commercials.
At the invitation of then-University president Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, WND picked up a full programming schedule and moved to a new home in O'Shaughnessy Hall in 1952. The station featured live coverage of Notre Dame sports along with popular music (many of the same tunes that are still featured in the evenings on WSND) and an occasional dramatic presentation. In 1953, the station changed its call letters to WNDU. In 1955, those call letters were soon taken by the University for their new commercial TV and radio operations, leading the radio station to pick up the call letters we bear to this day: WSND - We Serve Notre Dame.
In 1961, a second carrier current signal with a focus on classical music was started. The year after, FCC approval was granted, and WSND took the FM airwaves at 88.9. The over-the-airwaves beginnings of WSND-FM were rather inauspicious: The 10 watts of power barely reached downtown South Bend and programming was limited to just 7 hours a day while classes were in session. Despite the abbreviated schedule, WSND-FM developed a devoted following in the South Bend community and soon acquired the rights to such perennial favorites as Metropolitan Opera and syndicated concerts such as the Chicago Symphony and the New York Philharmonic.
The new FM station allowed student broadcasters to be heard by the community during the school year. The FM station would continue to operate from the top of O’Shaughnessy hall along side the original on-campus carrier current station (WSND-AM) for the next 24 years. Both provided students with hands-on experience in broadcasting.
In 1971, a grant gave WSND-FM the funds to construct a new, 3,300-watt transmitter and upgraded its signal to make the station available to the entire Michiana area. The next year, WSND-FM expanded its programming to the entire year by inviting volunteers from the community to participate in the station's operation. Over the years, WSND-FM continued to offer its daily classical format while beginning to diversify in the later evening with specialty shows featuring rock and news. A short excursion into broadcasts of selected Notre Dame hockey games was short-lived, but the station continued to develop new programming in the 1980s, ‘90s, and 2000s. Local programs such as Explorations into Piano Literature, Ideas and Issues, Performers of Our Time, An Hour of Stories, Big Bands Revisited, Jazz Traditions, Celtic Traditions (in the Irish spirit), Reggae Street and other specialty programming provided outlets for music not usually heard in the commercial marketplace.
Due to space considerations, WSND-AM split off from their FM cousin and took up a new home in the LaFortune Student Center. By 2000, the station had moved to Internet-only broadcasting, becoming WVFI - The Voice of the Fighting Irish, available on the Internet at http://www.nd.edu/~wvfi.
WSND-FM continues to serve as the classical and fine arts sound of the University of Notre Dame while providing an enjoyable and educational experience to students and community members alike. A unique radio alternative for Michiana, WSND-FM has served the Notre Dame/South Bend community for over six decades, but of course, the best is yet to come.