WBJC (91.5 FM) is a public, non-commercial, radio station owned by Baltimore City Community College, in Baltimore, Maryland.


WBJC-FM was originally on 88.1 MHz and broadcast with a 250 watt transmitter obtained from military surplus by Edward Arnold, chief engineer, to serve as a workshop for his students of radio and for those of the Department of Speech, Drama and Radio, headed by Clarence DeHaven at the Baltimore Junior College, which shared the campus of the Baltimore high school, known as Baltimore City College. Its antenna had a gain of -3db so that the effective radiated power was only 125 watts. However the antenna was on the top of the school's tower, which enjoyed a great view of almost all of Baltimore except for a few valleys. and its signal covered the City of Baltimore and much of surrounding counties. Generally speaking the station operated a flexible schedule as it was largely dependent on student volunteers. Generally the station signed off at 5 PM, but sports events often extended the broadcast day and led to weekend operation.

In the summer of 1952 Dick Ballard broached the idea of making use of the facilities in the evening for broadcasts of good music. With James Winship Lewis, director of the Handel Choir and member of the faculty of the department of Speech, Drama and Radio of the college, he secured the support of a number of civic leaders, and with the enthusiastic backing of the late Dean Katenkamp arrangements were completed. The evening broadcasts began on the 15th of September, 1952, running from 7 to 11 PM seven days a week. The rather limited operating expenses were underwritten by the Department of Adult Education with the support of Thomas A. Van Sant and Wilmer V. Bell. All of the expenses of preparing and presenting the programs, including securing the records, were borne by members of the volunteer staff, assisted by friends of the station. The evening staff programs consisted of classical music with less frequent dramatic plays, talks, poetry, readings and interviews with Baltimore musicians. Thursday night was Opera Night. The volunteer staff, originally consisting of seven music lovers, organized itself, electing officers in April of 1953, grew and published a monthly program guide. Sixty-odd volunteers produced the evening programs during its first five years.

Early FM radios often would not tune down to as low as 88.1 MHz, so Clarence DeHaven, who oversaw operation of the station, in addition to his teaching and administrative duties, asked the FCC to allow a change of WBJC's frequency to one which was adjacent to the frequencies used by commercial broadcasters. This coincided with the Junior College's move to its own campus on Reisterstown Rd. For many years the station occupied a wood frame house on the campus, with studios on the second floor. The "Evening Staff" volunteer program ended in the early-1970s. Matt Edwards, a classical music commentator on New York's WNCN and WQXR for many years, started as an Evening Staff volunteer at WBJC while in his teens. WBAL-FM, WCBM-FM, and WITH-FM were full-time classical music stations in the 50s and 60s, plus WFMM carried classical music at night. WBJC-FM's "Evening Staff" sought to present a more diversified selection of music than was available on these other stations.

Current operations

The station broadcasts a 24 hours-a-day schedule of classical music and arts information programming. The station studios and office is located in northwest Baltimore, Maryland and the antenna is near the junction of I-695 and Reisterstown Road. The station's 50,000 watt signal reaches more than 180,000 listeners weekly across Maryland, Washington, DC and portions of the surrounding states. Reception can sometimes be a problem, though; especially south and west of DC. The station's website offers advice on how to improve reception.

WBJC produces several popular programs hosted by respected artist Jonathan Palevsky[2] Past Masters showcases notable performances from the past. Face the Music has a panel of local musical experts listening and offering critiques of new recordings. Vocalise focuses on vocal music (the station usually does not play vocal music on a daily basis). WBJC Operafest presents classic opera recordings in their entirety. Toccata focuses on keyboard music. Music in Maryland features locally performed concerts. Late night/early morning broadcasts are provided by Classical 24.

WBJC's major competition in the classical music market is WETA/90.9, from Arlington, Virginia. This is also a non-commercial station broadcasting in the Washington, DC area.