(reading time: 90 seconds)
I love College Radio.
My career started there and I am still a big fan.
My first radio job ever was in the summer of 1967 when I
found myself at American Legion “Boys State” at the
SUNY campus in Morrisville NY. How I ended
up during the “summer of love” at a military indoctrination program in upstate
NY is a another story, but suffice it to say I skipped most of the week-long
program when I found that the dorm I was in was home to WCVM, “The College Voice of Morrisville”.
While my fellow Boys-Staters drilled with the Marines and
underwent indoctrination sessions on the value of the Vietnam War, I was holed
up in the radio studio reading the news.
A year later I arrived at Lehigh University. By second semester freshman year I was Program
Director of one of Lehigh’s two carrier-current radio stations, the
then-Classical WLVR. Within months we changed format to
Progressive Rock and the rest is history.
I was a DJ, newsman, did remotes, wrote copy. There was no Broadcasting major at Lehigh and
we barely had a faculty advisor. We were
on our own in the best and worst sense of the word.
At Lehigh I won my first Major Armstrong
Award for documentary excellence, “Old Friends” which captured in
interviews and music what it was like to grow old. That was the only independent-study credit I
ever got for my college radio work which had become a seven day, 40 hour a week
After graduation in 1972 I launched a professional career at
WLIR / Long Island, but kept in touch with my College Radio Roots by joining
the Board of Directors of IBS, the Intercollegiate
Broadcasting System. I served there until 2000 when it was time to pass the
torch to a younger generation. (I also
served on the Board of the Major Armstrong Foundation at Columbia University
until it dissolved.)
A lot of College Radio is unlistenable, self-indulgent and
sloppy. But occasionally you find a
station with great kids, a professional sound and yet none of the commercial mimicry
that used to frustrate me so.
In my mind, College Radio should program what other stations
can’t or won’t. It shouldn’t imitate the
hot commercial format du jour.
College Radio gives kids a chance to learn the medium, to
experiment and fail. Most will never go
on to careers in broadcasting, but all will have a better sense of the medium
and the responsibilities one has with the privilege of being on-air.