9YAJ/ WCAL are the call letters of the first publicly supported radio station in the United States. Its early life changed the way that listeners supported non-commercial radio across the country, exemplified by today's large and highly successful Minnesota Public Radio broadcasting empire.
Started under an experimental license, with call letters 9YAJ, as a physics experiment on the Saint Olaf College Campus, its 1918 broadcasts reached to the other side of the globe. After 1922, using the new call letters WCAL, it pioneered the first radio broadcast of Shakespeare's As You Like it, and later laid claim to the first play by play broadcast of a sporting event. WCAL was also a founding member of National Public Radio. In 1924, in a financial pinch, it reached out to St. Olaf students and its public listeners to support its efforts in Minnesota and the Midwest and it became the first listener supported radio station. Known for high quality classical , cultural and news programming WCAL had a large and loyal following. Despite attempts to prevent the 10.5 million dollar sale, WCAL left the air November 21, 2004 when its ownership was transferred to Minnesota Public Radio and FM frequency 89.3 became the contemporary music station The Current.
~John Lindell, MInneapolis, MN