Sunday, January 27, 2008

Forgotten Radio History

Many college radio stations are staffed entirely by undergraduate students, which means that schedules change every semester and staff turnover is very high. Additionally, students' #1 priority isn't necessarily their volunteer work at the college station. When I was at WHRC, we struggled not only with attracting listeners, but also with enlisting students to DJ and help out at the station with all the mundane tasks that need to be done to keep a station afloat. The unfortunate side effect of stations like this where the staff turns over every year is that there is no institutional history and no connection to the past or tradition. When I was there we found cool, old dusty records in the record library from maybe the 1940s, but didn't know much about the station that played those records. It's only now, years later, that I'm learning that Haverford College had one of the earliest college radio stations and was home to some radio pioneers.

Similarly, students at Haverford today know little about the status of the station in the 1980s when I was there. In fact, an article in the college newspaper in 2002 even stated that WHRC went off the air in 1985, thereby erasing my entire tenure (1985-1989) at the station! Not that we were doing much that was pioneering...But, I was there when we added the first CD (it was all vinyl before that) to the library and when we started to build relationships with and get sent free music from hip independent record labels like Homestead Records. At the time, that was a huge accomplishment for us since we were a tiny station and didn't get record service from many labels at all.

More on the History of WHRC

Five Years Dead, WHRC Airborne Again (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/99)
Haverford College Radio Returns (Main Line Times, 2001)
WHRC (The Bi-College News, 4/01)
WHRC Revamps Its Style This Year (The Bi-College News, 9/01)
More Than Just Music for the People (The Bi-College News, 2002)

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