A little over a year ago I met Michael Lupica, the advisor for Princeton University’s college radio station WPRB-FM in Princeton, New Jersey. He and I both attended the Saving College Radio Symposium at University of Maryland and we chatted a bit about college radio history as we took in the wonderful WMUC exhibit in the school’s Hornbake Library (see the online exhibit here). At the time, Lupica mentioned that he’d been digging into the archives at WPRB, in the hopes of compiling a more complete history of the station.
Well, it’s thrilling to see that WPRB has just launched its “archival website celebrating the station’s 75 years of history.” Lupica writes about WPRB History, saying,
I’m proud to announce the launch of wprbhistory.org, which contains archival audio, photos, as well as gushy (but frequently hilarious) stories from former staff members. Although specific to WPRB, I think there’s a lot of content that any college and community radio devotee will enjoy. We’re also gearing up for an exhibit of station ephemera which I’m curating with the University’s archives department. It is very much inspired by the amazing college radio symposium held at WMUC last year…That’ll be opening this Fall here in Princeton (exact date still TBD) and will be up through May of 2016.”
WPRB’s history site is a treasure trove of vintage station photos (including a slideshow of WPRB DJs wearing Ramones T-shirts), factoids, playlists (check this one out from 1989) as well as first-person accounts from station alumni. It’s all divided by decade, so you can flip through to catch tidbits from different eras. In the 1970s section, I was struck by the post, “I Majored in Radio Station,” by former Chief Engineer and Tech Director Moe Rubenzahl. He writes,
Living in Holder sealed my fate. I told my parents I was majoring in engineering. Truth be told, I majored in Radio Station. To this day, the smell of mildew brings back memories. No doubt, my mouth was open as I carried my boxes into the Holder courtyard and heard the speakers blasting, playing live ‘PRB all freshmen week, for the students on their way to Commons. I saw the remote board, a DJ, and an engineer. I don’t remember how much I understood at the time but I do remember thinking, ‘I want to do THAT!’
And I did. Like hundreds before me, and hundreds after, I labored in the racks, behind the mics, over the UPI machine (in those days, a noisy monster which smelled of machine oil), swapped records, hammered and sawed and soldered and slaved. And I remember reunions, when the old ‘PRBers, beery, doddering old farts, would wander in and look around. They’d sit on the dilapidated, mismatched (but free) lobby furniture and eagerly tell old-timer stories to the new generation of long-haired students. Yes, these old gents – of 35 or 40 – they had some tales to tell. We would listen a while, perking up when we heard a name that was hanging on a plaque on the wall or scratched into the side of some home brew gear we never could get to work. Then, too bored to be polite anymore, we’d sneak away, to do our WPRB jobs, leaving the alumni, sitting in the lobby, telling lies. Which, at that point, was their WPRB job.”
What I love about the WPRB History website is that it’s a work in progress and that it will continue to get updated with more stories and artifacts as they become available. It can be incredibly daunting to start a college radio history project and the WPRB approach makes it seem doable for any station. In fact, maybe that’s the strategy that I should take for my seemingly never-ending Haverford College radio history project? In any event, I think I need to start planning my trip to New Jersey, as I am also interested to see how the entire WPRB exhibit comes together.
Speaking of college radio history, I want to again encourage college radio stations to not only start archiving materials related to station history, but also to sign up as one of the Library of Congress’ Radio Preservation Task Force‘s affiliate archives and collections. It’s my mission to get more college radio stations on board with this project, so please get in touch if you’d like to sign up or need more information.
College Radio News Tidbits
Perhaps the weirdest college radio station story that I’ve ever heard…
RDU at University of Canterbury finally has a new studio after broadcasting out of the back of a truck for four years
Have a great idea for a college radio-themed panel discussion for the Minneapolis confab? Send it along to CBI for consideration.
Five Finalists for Best Student Radio Station in New Jersey
The New Jersey Broadcasters Association just launched a competition for “Best Student Radio Station” and the five finalists are: WPSC-FM (William Patterson University), WSOU-FM (Seton Hall University), WGLS-FM (Rowan University), WMSC-FM (Montclair State University), and WRRC-FM (Rider University). The winner will be announced on June 18.
We cover the culture of college radio every Friday in our College Radio Watch feature. If you have college radio news to share, please drop us a note at EDITORS at RADIOSURVIVOR dot COM.
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