Wisconsin Public Radio is the oldest public radio station in the nation. It’s also older than the BBC, Britain’s public service broadcaster.

And this year marks the 100th anniversary of WPR, which also stands as “one of the oldest continuously broadcasting radio stations of any kind in the country,” WPR director Mike Crane said in a news release.

When WPR first launched in 1917, it was focused on the two things that would best suit listeners in Wisconsin: crop prices and weather forecasts. WPR was the first station in the country to feature regularly scheduled weather forecasts, Crane said.

“The concept of public broadcasting began here, and it wasn’t just the invention of the technology, but using the technology to serve the public,” WPR marketing director Jeffrey Potter said.

To celebrate the centennial, WPR is hosting a special show at Overture Center for the Arts on Oct. 14 featuring NPR’s Ari Shapiro from the program “All Things Considered.”

“The Power of Story: A Centennial Celebration” will include a mixture of storytelling and music and conversations about storytelling, including animations about WPR history from Wisconsin Public Television, Potter said.

“We have great support from the people of Wisconsin,” Potter said. “The history is such that we couldn’t have made it to a hundred years or do the things we’ve done in educational breakthroughs or awards or public television (without state support)."


Amanda Finn is an arts and lifestyle reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.