New format, new slogan for radio station WVBR: “Ithaca’s Alternative”

Ithaca radio station WVBR has a new format this week. Fifty years after a transition to rock music and over twenty years after adopting their “Real Rock Radio” slogan, WVBR is now “Ithaca’s Alternative.” The station “will broadcast a unique mix of Alternative Rock from the ’90s to today.”

Student staff on the air at WVBR. 14850 file photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

A statement says the new format “will feature classic artists like Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, and the Strokes, along with the best newcomers in the alternative genre, like the Cold War Kids and Tame Impala.”

WVBR assistant general manager TJ Hurd tells us much of the new playlist “has been taken from the alternative music we already play, but we’ve been expanding a bit further into the discographies of our core artists.” He says some artists that will get deeper airplay include Beck, the Strokes and Arctic Monkeys.

“Local favorites such as the X Ambassadors, The Blind Spots, and Driftwood will also be regularly highlighted,” says Hurd. They’ll be leaving behind many of the oldies and quintessential classic rock chart-toppers that were the core of WVBR’s playlist for many years. “Some artists we’ll miss are Eric Clapton, Santana and Steely Dan,” TJ tells us. The station also took a brief foray into Top 40 radio in the mid ’80s.

Local bands like The New York Rock play live in WVBR’s performance space. 14850 file photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

“We’re curating a sound that’s remarkably fresh and also intensely local — something that’s not often heard on radio,” he says. “Listeners will discover great new alternative music, along with new local bands and their upcoming shows and events.” The station has long focused on local acts, with weekly live performances on Tuesdays with the Band, and hosts local concerts.

The change won’t affect WVBR’s weekends, which offer community-focused specialty shows like Crossroads, Rockin’ Remnants, the Salt Creek Show, Nonesuch, and Bound for Glory, most of them going back decades.

The radio station, which is owned and operated by Cornell University students but isn’t directly affiliated with the school, moved to its current location in lower Collegetown four years ago after a fundraising campaign that included a major gift from media personality Keith Olbermann, who asked that the building be dedicated in memory of his father and friend and fellow former WVBR staffer Glenn Corneliess. WVBR also built a new broadcast tower last year, offering “a stronger and clearer signal, allowing the station to be heard by a larger regional audience.”

WVBR can be heard at 93.5FM on radios in Ithaca, or worldwide at

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