WFIT is a radio station on the Florida Institute of Technology’s campus. The station began broadcasting as a student run station in 1975 with a 10-watt transmitter. Gary Bowie was the first general manager, and the station was run exclusively by volunteers who donated their time. Others such as Sonny Marble (a long serving DJ) donated their music collections1. The station continued to grow and obtained paid staff and started defining itself as an alternative station run by students until 1993 when it shifted to a largely jazz format2. In 1980 the station had upgraded to a 3,000-watt transmitter coving a 25-mile radius and the station continued to increase its power and coverage area. In 1981 WFIT covered the first shuttle launches3. Under general manager Jon Pernick, who started volunteering with the station in 1985, the station capitalized on its alternative credentials and became a major force in the alternative scene hosting events, and generating partnerships with local businesses. The station received recognition from the Gavin Report, and Billboard Magazine recognized the station as one of the top 11 college alternative stations in the nation. In 1989 Pernik was recruited by Spin Magazine, and according to the Florida Toady he “helped propel WFIT from small-time status to the college radio big leagues.” 4
The period of 1990-1993 was a period of change for WFIT. The station moved from a largely volunteer-run station to a more NPR affiliate model under the leadership of general manager David Kershaw and station manager Rob Selkow. The changes were met with resistance, which led to a movement called Keep the Freedom. The movement attempted to keep the alternative student run format but the station did transition to a new jazz focused format in early 1993. Despite the conflict, the station continued to receive recognition and advance technologically. In May of 1992, the station acquired a satellite dish to carry more nationally syndicated APM/NPR programs and on August 1994, the station became a full NPR member station. The station participated in outreach programs including refurbished instrument drives for local schools which started in 1996. In 1998, David Kershaw departed after 10 years as general manager and Terri Wright took over.
Under Wright’s leadership the station started broadcasting a 24-7 lineup in July of 2000. WFIT continued its community outreach work promoting events and fundraisers for groups such as the food bank, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and animal welfare groups. The station also received recognition in 2002 from the Brevard County Commissioners “as a community resource serving the Spanish speaking citizens of Brevard County.” In 2005, WFIT was one of the first in the nation to switch to digital transmission 5 and in 2012 WFIT moved from its old home in Roberts Hall to a new broadcast facility. The new facility has been used to record albums by artist such as Christian Tamburr, who was FIT’s music artist in residence, in 20146 . WFIT celebrated serving the students of the Florida Institute of Technology and the public for 40 years in 2015.
1Jenny Henke, “Music Man Wants to Share,” Florida Today, March 31, 1977, 1D.
2Catherine Hinman "RADIO WAVES," ORLANDO SENTINEL, June 26, 1993: E2. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/0EB4F122E947BE76?p=AWNB.
3Beth Dickey, “Radio interferes with TV picture.” Florida Today, June 1, 1980, 3B. http://floridatoday.newspapers.com/image/124732844
4Colleen Moore, “Spin recruits WFIT manager.” Florida Today, February 24 1989, 1D. http://floridatoday.newspapers.com/image/177629731
5Brian Monroe, “WFIT-FM Switches to Digital.” Florida Today, Wed, Sep 21, 2005, 1C. https://www.newspapers.com/image/178738952
6"Florida Institute of Technology; Christian Tamburr to Record Album at Florida Tech." Journal of Engineering (Jul 30, 2014): 446.