One of WUOT's founders, Kenneth Wright, died on May 14 in Canton, Georgia. On October 27, 1949, his was among the first voices ever heard on the then-experimental university FM station broadcasting from the basement of Ayres Hall. Wright served as the station's general manager during its earliest years, helping form WUOT's role in the community.
"You heard the culmination of a longstanding dream," Wright said during the inaugural broadcast. "To our listeners, a promise to offer the best radio our intelligence and hard work are capable of producing."
Wright was a University of Tennessee graduate, and received his PhD. from Ohio State University in 1960. An obituary describes him as an avid hiker and camper, logging some 5,000 miles in the Smokies over 50 years.
In a 2009 interview, Wright explained how he helped establish the station's vision at a time in which an FM non-commercial station was a rarity.
"The concept I had, and which we ultimately used, was that [WUOT] was the voice of the university," he said. "[That] has connotations with education, and with the cultural things. We wanted to play good music, and have discussions of things that were important for everybody."
Wright is survived by his wife, two daughters, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. The family will reportedly hold a private service at a later date.