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Our History

image of buren robbins at desk

Prof. Buren C. Robbins.
WSIU Archives

The early 1950s were pivotal years in the broadcasting industry as radio vied with the nation's fledgling television networks to attract the attention of the American public. When CBS introduced color television in 1951, a technological revolution was born that continues to shape American society to this day.

In Carbondale, Southern Illinois University president Delyte W. Morris was leading his own revolution, transforming a small teacher's college into a comprehensive research university. In 1951, Morris and Radio-Television professor Buren C. Robbins created the SIU Broadcasting Service, with the goal of extending the University's message into surrounding communities while providing educational and cultural programming.

On September 15, 1958, the SIU Broadcasting Service began broadcasting 45 hours of educational radio programming on WSRV, or "Southern's Radio Voice" (the call letters were changed to WSIU in 1960). Interestingly, the FM station originally broadcast from a cement-block Quonset hut on campus that at one time had been a chicken hatchery, a battery repair station, and a tire repair shop!

image of WSIU Radio sign in its old location

Entrance to WSIU Radio, 1960s.
WSIU Archives

Robbins also forged partnerships with Southern Illinois K-12 educators to create the Southern Illinois Instructional Television Association (SIITA), setting the stage for WSIU to become an educational resource for the region.

On November 6, 1961, WSIU TV signed on the air with 55 hours of programming, with nearly half of those hours devoted to instructional programs for classroom use by local K-12 schools. WSIU's sister station, WUSI TV 16, signed on in Olney on
August 19, 1968.

image of two people operating an old RCA camera

Students on the TV set, 1970s.
WSIU Archives

Today WSIU operates digital television channels WSIU TV 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, and 8.4 and WUSI TV 16.1, 16.2, 16.3, and 16.4; three radio stations - WSIU 91.9 FM, WSIU 91.9 HD (high-definition), WUSI 90.3 FM in Olney (launched 1993), and WVSI 88.9 FM in Mt. Vernon (launched 2001); and a website at We reach an even broader audience through the Southern Illinois Radio Information Service (SIRIS), and our education and community outreach services.

siu logo 2011

WSIU and its parent institution, Southern Illinois University, is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex in violation of Title VII.
The most recent WSIU EEO report, 2013 Community Impact Report and WSIU Financial Audit are available for review.
The online version of the FCC WSIU Public File is available here.