The folks over at the University of Kentucky have some great things in the work and Radio Free Lexington or WRFL is no exception. This local Lexington based college radio station is taking the city and surrounding regions by storm, challenging big radio to either change their tune or get out all while having fun. While it may have a small staff, WRFL is no low-power radio station. This mostly volunteer run station in Kentucky has significantly altered the musical soundscape of the Lexington community. WRFL first hit the air in 1988 and has been going for several decades uninterrupted. Folks from Lexington are used to the station’s tongue and cheek commercials (often parodies of commercial radio stations) and colorful DJs. But is WRFL really the only alternative left in the Bluegrass state?
WRFL isn’t sitting still waiting around for the answer. In 2009, the local station launched its music festival, Boomslang: A Celebration of Sound & Art. The festival was a collaborative effort to bring together different aspects of Kentucky’s emerging music and art community. It acted as a new extension for WRFL’s mission to provide a platform for non-commercial and non-mainstream acts to take over the stage and take over they did. Legendary acts like Faust and Os Mutantes shared the stage with Mission of Burma and other local acts. Musical, visual, and artistic performances were given equal opportunity to shine at Lexington’s Boomslang Festival. For more information on becoming involved in Boomslang 2013 check out WRFL’s Boomslang submissions page.
This little radio station may be small but it continues to make a big impact on Lexington, gathering talent from all over Kentucky. The station got a much needed signal boost in June of 2010 after several years of fundraising added up. DJ Mick Jefferies recounted his memories of the new radio tower with Ace Weekly.
I learned of it Thursday morning at 5:30am, after reading an email from WRFL’s
unflappable Faculty Advisor, John Clark:
“hi, RFLiens. Shortly after midnight, at
12:10:58, to be precise, with little fanfare, but
lots of love, [Program Director] Matt Gibson
and I applied our digits to the proper places on
the transmitter touchscreen. Then we stood back
in silence and awe and watched the digital
readout climb. Without even beginning to name
names, many thanks to everyone who had anything
to do with this awesome event, all the way
back to 1996, when we first started working on
And with that, WRFL boosted it’s signal from 250 watts to 7900 watts, enabling the Lexington station to reach beyond Lexington’s borders to surrounding communities. So what’s next for the little station that could? WRFL team members are working hard to find talented on-air DJs to keep the programming fresh and diverse. Listeners can tune in at any time of the day and hear music from every genre, LBGTIQQA shows, political programs, and much more. WRFL is proving that for-profit radio radio will have to step up their quality if they intend to compete with upstart radio stations like WRFL.