An alumnus of the class of 1977 writes, "MIT's student FM-radio station WTBS ("Technology Broadcasting System") went on the air on April 10, 1961. It will celebrate its 50th anniversary on the exact date that MIT celebrates its 150th!
"In 1978, WTBS was short of money, and faced with upgrading its broadcasting and transmitting facilities to comply with FCC regulations, including a small upgrade in power. Out of the blue, media mogul Ted Turner called WTBS, and wanted to "buy" the call letters WTBS so that his TV station could become the Turner Broadcasting System. Of course buying call letters was not legal, but after negotiations, it was agreed that Mr. Turner would donate $25,000 to the radio station when it released its call letters by acquiring new ones, and another $25,000 when he was able to acquire WTBS from the FCC. It all happened, and on May 24, 1979, the radio station changed its call sign to WMBR ("Walker Memorial Basement Radio"). As a former General Manager of WTBS and long-time trustee of the radio station, I have in the station's files the check stub from the donation, as well as correspondence from the transaction.
"WTBS was in real danger of being regulated out of business. New FCC rules in the late 70s forced low-power stations to upgrade, or else their signals could face interference from others. WTBS had no funds to do this. The Ted Turner donation allowed WTBS (and the newly-renamed WMBR) to upgrade its facilities, and propel its growth into one of the most influential non-commercial university-based radio stations in the nation. As we approach WMBR's 50th anniversary on the same day as MIT's 150's we salute Ted Turner's innovative approach and generosity."