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College Radio Station equipment and flyers at the Saving WMUC exhibit

College Radio Watch: WSCS Sale Details and Film of Yale’s WYBC in 1950s

Last week I reported on the impending sale of the Colby-Sawyer College radio station WSCS-FM to the Vinikoor Foundation. After corresponding with representatives from the college and from Vinikoor, I have a few more details about the sale. According to Ambrose Metzegen, the Chief Operating Officer and Faculty Advisor for WSCS, “The decision to sell was, for the most part, an administrative one…While there was some general interest, the overhead costs, FCC requirements and the payment of an FCC fine (before my time) were probably the main factors. New costs for a digital board and other expenses probably did not help.”

Metzegen, who has been involved with WSCS for about 5 years, also told me that he wasn’t surprised by the station sale, but acknowledged that “very few students knew.” He also said that there was low listenership among college students and that “the station had a stronger base in the classical, folk and independent music shows.”

One of Metzegen’s staff members at WSCS, Frederick Moe, has worked in station management since 2007 and has been an on-air DJ since 1999. He told me,  “No staff or students had input to this process that I am aware of as the sale was not public knowledge. I was only notified in late June that the station was going off the air for certain.”

It’s still unclear what future plans for student radio at Colby-Sawyer College will be. Metzeger said, “At this time, an online station on campus has not been discussed.” Moe said, “I have no idea what future plans are, but I hope that the station continues…in some form.”

Based on my discussion with future owner Bob Vinikoor, it’s possible that some of the WSCS DJs could potentially continue broadcasting after the station transitions to its new owners. Vinikoor told me over email,

At this time our plans are to continue as much local community involvement as possible.  Also keeping a close relationship with Colby-Sawyer College is a natural part of that local community involvement. I think our music selection may be a bit less eclectic than that of a student run station. We are looking into launching a classical music format.

Keeping WSCS local is certainly an integral part of what we plan on doing. Local radio is what makes radio successful and that’s what we plan on doing. I have been contacted by a couple of long time community members who have worked at WSCS and I’m looking forward to meeting with them at the earliest possible time to get their insights etc. in to the needs of the community. Similarly once the students return in the fall I plan on meeting with them as well.”

Although Vinikoor and his wife have many years of radio experience in the area, it’s been mainly as owners of commercial radio stations. Vinikoor did work in non-commercial radio when he was in college in the 1960s. He told me,

…my wife Sheila and I have been operating stations that serve communities in New Hampshire and Vermont for 26 yeas. Together, we own four commercial stations, and Sheila is the licensee for another, bringing our total combined interest in radio to five stations, three in New Hampshire and two in Vermont. I also had experience in non-commercial radio during my college radio days in the mid-1960s.

Sheila and I are thrilled to continue the tradition of local, community broadcasting on WSCS. We love the town of New London and have always wanted to bring classical music to the airwaves, as well as a station that serves the greater arts community in the region. WSCS is a way for us to give back to the community. We have already met with some of folks at Colby-Sawyer College who are involved in WSCS, and we have more meetings planned with community members. We want to keep as many of the players who were involved with WSCS in place as possible.”

It will be interesting to see what happens after the sale of WSCS is finalized and I look forward to hearing more about how the new station will work with former WSCS DJs. Here’s a short documentary about WSCS from 2008, to give a glimpse into the station’s more recent past.

College Radio History Tidbit – 1956 Documentary about WYBC at Yale

YouTube has a treasure trove of videos taken at college radio stations. I was excited to find this 1956 documentary that walks through the ins and outs of doing radio in the 1950s at Yale University station WYBC. It outlines every station department (including news, public relations, etc.), gives instructions on cueing records and also provides an account of how remote sports broadcasts are done. There are also snippets of performances by Yale musical groups.


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2 Responses to College Radio Watch: WSCS Sale Details and Film of Yale’s WYBC in 1950s

  1. Jerry Drawhorn July 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    This is yet another case of Administrations not including stakeholders, many of whom funded the station or used their years of unpaid service, to maintain what the University asserts is their “asset”.

    I think that the only way stations and student governments can defend themselves from these acts is to stop trusting that the University will include them in the process. This sadly puts the University and the students (if not faculty and staff) in an adversarial position with the University.

    Stations need to regularly every six months or so) request ORR’s on University communications that relate to the campus radio station (using a variety of possible search terms -such as “radio”, “licensee”, “broadcasting” and the call letters to avoid “coding”).

  2. Jerry Drawhorn July 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    Thank’s for the Yale film on WYBC- a great look at at how they did it back “then”. Fascinating that they used some sort of syndicated “music to study by” during class hours and other syndicated, locally produced, material. News seemed to be important as did the “Stardust” request show. The fact that record stores tracked the playlist of the station (or vice-versa) was also interesting.

    The record handling and slip cue (with that massive 18″ record requiring special turntables) I would rate an “D”…his fingers were all over the lacquer surface.

    640 AM would be a commercial frequency so they could do things like run American Airlines and Lucky Strike ads. I was a bit puzzled how the restricted the broadcast to Yale Undergraduates while at 350 watts.

    The degree that the staff were considered as autonomous was interesting…no broadcasting courses or direct supervision other than an advisor and an annual meeting with a Faculty Board. The “Student Board” seemed to run a tight, well-organized, and self-financed, operation. Not a mention of the FCC, though I assumed all that training was designed to get supervisors capable of passing the 1st Phone requirement.

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