Founded in 1935, the Cornell Media Guild has been giving students hands-on experience in media and business for over 85 years. CMG owns and operates 93.5 WVBR-FM, the only fully independent, non-profit, student-run, commercial radio station in the United States. CMG also operates a student-run record label, Electric Buffalo Records, to help launch emerging local artists, as well as a free-format online radio stream, Cornell Radio. Across CMG's platforms, students get experience working in media programming and production, news, and sports while honing valuable business and leadership skills.
Students may not carry transistor radios anymore, but the core of the Cornell Media Guild remains as strong as ever, thanks to a committed team of hard-working students, a passionate cohort of community volunteers, and a generous group of alumni who have dedicated their time and support to guiding and mentoring each generation of leadership. Our goal from the start has been to provide students with hands-on training in media and running a multi-faceted business while serving the local and campus communities.
WHY SUPPORT STUDENT-RUN MEDIA
Over the last decade, dozens of college radio stations have gone off air or transferred their licenses, and most remaining stations, like WICB at Ithaca College, receive departmental funding from their affiliated universities. With radio advertising revenue steeply declining, the Cornell Media Guild and WVBR-FM depend on the generosity of listeners and supporters to stay on air.
CMG's current FM broadcast facilities date back to 1962, when a 150-foot transmitter tower and shack were constructed at Hungerford Hill near East Hill Plaza. After 60 years, the transmitter shack needs critical repairs, including a new roof and updated ventilation to protect transmitter equipment. While equipment failures give our student engineers real-world troubleshooting experience as we make emergency repairs, they also interrupt broadcasts and distract from the day-to-day operations as we strive to serve the Cornell and local communities.
Cornell Media Guild FM transmitter shack
Inside the transmitter shack
CREATIVITY, CONTENT, AND COMMUNITY
The Cornell Media Guild is a unique town-gown bridge, where students work alongside local community members, developing content for an audience that includes Cornellians and Ithacans. CMG's programs help bring the Hill to the Tompkins County community while also giving students a broader perspective on the Ithaca area beyond campus.
In recent years, students have launched innovative radio shows and podcasts to address critical issues and amplify underrepresented voices. With over 50+ episodes, CMG's Black Voices on the Hill podcast has given a platform to Cornell and community leaders, while Talk of the Town offers deep dives on local and national headlines with insight from experts. Big Red Banter discusses the world of sports, and hundreds of listeners tune in weekly for Bound for Glory, the longest-running live folk concert broadcast in the country.
CMG offers a community that stretches back generations, with alumni generously sharing their time and mentorship with current students. An annual CMG Symposium brings alumni back to campus to network with students and give presentations about the current media landscape. Dozens of notable media personalities launched their careers with CMG, including TV psychologist Joyce Brothers '47, Miami meteorologist John Morales '84, iHeartMedia president Tom Poleman '86, voice of the NYC subway Jessica Ettinger Gottesman '87, and NBC's Kate Snow '91.
Alumni back on air again on a visit to the station's Olbermann-Corneliess Studios in Collegetown