WUIS signed on the air at noon on January 3, 1975 as WSSR 91.9-FM. Robert Spencer, the first president of Sangamon State University (which would become part of the University of Illinois in 1995), believed that public broadcasting was a natural extension of the public affairs mandate placed upon the University by the Illinois General Assembly in 1969.
Journalism and cultural programming have always been the primary mission of the station. Not long after signing on the air, retired News Director Rich Bradley established the station’s Statehouse Bureau and began WUIS' longest-running program, State Week in Review. WUIS later became the hub of the Illinois Public Radio network and became a part of the UIS Public Affairs Reporting program.
WUIS broadcasts the Sangamon Auditorium concerts of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra after each performance. WUIS has also long been committed to a wide variety of musical programs, including Bluegrass Breakdown, the classical Lincoln Library Concert, the eclectic modern folk of Nightsounds, in addition to new age, jazz, and blues music.
The station's call letters were changed from WSSR to WSSU in 1989, and the addition of WIPA 89.3-FM in 1993 extended the station's broadcast area to include western Illinois, with a transmitter located near Griggsville. When the Illinois General Assembly approved a reorganization of higher education in the state, Sangamon State University became a campus of the University of Illinois and the station became WUIS in July 1995. In 2009, the Digital Conversion project led to the debut of WUIS Xponential at 91.9-2 HD and WUIS Classic followed in 2010 at 91.9-3 HD. All signals are also streamed here at WUIS.org. Much of the audio WUIS produces can also be heard through the NPR mobile ap.
WUIS is a member station of both NPR and also regularly broadcasts programs and specials from other sources. However, the station’s local information and music programming and statewide governmental news coverage have always been an integral part of its mission. WUIS will celebrate its 40th year on the air in 2015.