WMUK began operation in 1951 as WMCR at what was then known as Western Michigan College. The station was on the air only a few hours each day, broadcasting instructional programs and music with a power of 400 watts on a frequency of 91.1 MHz. This modest beginning gave WMUK the distinction of becoming Kalamazoo's first FM station.

In 1955, thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, WMCR raised its effective transmitter power to 36,000 watts and assumed its present place on the dial, 102.1 FM. WMCR became WMUK in 1961. The new call letters reflected a change in name for the college, which had become Western Michigan University four years earlier. In 1965, a grant from the Kalamazoo Foundation enabled the station to raise power to 39,000 watts and begin broadcasting in stereo, making it the first Kalamazoo station to provide this technological advance.

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In 1971, WMUK banded together with other stations and the newly-formed CPB to form National Public Radio, a member-governed production network. Two years later, in 1973, the station moved its studios to the then-new Friedmann Hall, where they remain today. A grant from the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare allowed WMUK to raise its effective power to 50,000 watts, and to move its transmitter to Plainwell for more efficient delivery of its signal.

Until 1980, NPR's programs were distributed to stations by mail (for music tapes) and telephone lines (for news programs). But with the beginning of the new decade, NPR became the first radio network to use satellite delivery systems. The original analog satellite equipment provided a startling improvement in clarity, especially for programs like All Things Considered and Morning Edition. In the 1990's, the analog delivery system was upgraded to digital technology requiring new satellite dishes and decoding equipment. WMUK acquired its own transmitter tower and site in March of 1994 through a donation from Fetzer Broadcasting Services.

WMUK is now on the air 24 hours a day, providing a diverse blend of news, music, and cultural programs to the Southwest Michigan area.