May 2015 - WPRB History
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May 2015

Curtis Mayfield at McCarter Theater, April 1972

In 1972, Curtis Mayfield performed live at Princeton’s McCarter Theater in what appears to have been a benefit for Sickle Cell Anemia research. The event does not seem to have been sponsored by WPRB (quick web research suggests it was a collaboration between McCarter and Princeton’s Association of Black Collegians), but the station aired this commercial in the run up to the April 15th performance.


“Your Show Sucks!”

[By Ian Auzenne]

The first time I actually listened to WPRB was the night after my first appearance on (sports talk show) “Time Out”. I was listening via the webstream just to see what was on the air, and I was amazed and astounded by what I heard: Backwards records. Slowed down records. Records being played over each other—some with superb mixing; others not so much.  It was a beautiful cacophony, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard.

I walked down to the station and knocked on the door. I wanted to find out who was responsible for awakening my ears.

The DJ who answered the door was a tall, hulking young man who sounded slightly older than he was. I introduced myself and, in fan boy fashion, told him how much I enjoyed what I was hearing. That jock, Adam Flynn ’08, invited me in and let me watch him at work. I was mesmerized. (more…)

Commercial: The Clash at Rider College

I spent last summer in a dust mask so as to catalog WPRB’s collection of 1000+ 1/4″ reels. Some of them were moldy or suffering from sticky shed syndrome, while others were frustratingly mislabeled. With the help of the great Scott Konzelmann (aka “Chop Shop”), we also revived the station’s aging Otari reel to reel deck (whose primary function had sadly been reduced to ‘doorjam’ here at the station), and began digitizing reels.

For the initial test of the rejuvenated Otari, I needed a “junk reel”, for lack of a better term—something that no tears would be shed for in the event the Otari chewed it up, so I found something anonymous-looking which I figured was expendable.

WRONG! After racking up a reel from an unmarked box, I was rewarded with this great (albeit pretty dorky) commercial for The Clash‘s appearance at Rider College circa 1982. (I’m guessing the year based on the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” music bed. That song is from Combat Rock, which came out that year.)


Mudhoney interview, 1991

In 1991, Mudhoney stopped by WPRB prior to their show with Gas Huffer and Superchunk at City Gardens. On the inside of 13 minutes, DJ Corey (whose great radio show I’ve written about elsewhere) interviewed the band, and got them to dish on  Sub Pop, death metal, and Thurston Moore being stalked by crazed fans in Tokyo.

Here’s the interview:


(Corey was also the co-host of a great show called “Three Bad Sisters” with a grad student named Julianne. Each of the hosts comprised 1.5 of the sisters.)

Somewhere between “scattered” and “shattered”, by Lily Prillinger

[Left to right: Frank Shepard ’96, Sarah Teasley ’95, Lily Prillinger ’97]

Back in the 90’s, I arrived at Princeton with a fistful of dubious ambitions. I actively brooded.

While svelte coeds were friskily tossing lacrosse sticks and sporting diamond stud earrings, I lumbered around campus draped in a long coat and self-loathing. While the Prep-zillas were having ragingly banal keg parties and blasting bland yet thoroughly emetic sonic sludge like ‘Dave Matthews’ and ‘The Spin Doctors’ — I listened valiantly (and alone)  to a gargantuan beast of a Walkman which furiously chewed up my ‘exotically-acquired’ yet terminally fragile mixed tapes. It was a lonely existence.

One day while skulking around campus,  I met this cool-blooded, long-haired guy who was wearing an “Eraserhead” t-shirt. His name was Frank and he was the Clyde to my self-styled Bonnie. I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually follow the proverbial flannel-cloaked Pied Piper, down into to the subterranean universe of WPRB.

I still remember the warm fustiness of the basement air — a strange blend of dustiness and dampness which emanated from the ubiquitous and crumbling orange acoustical foam.  I remember the heavy walls of dense vinyl, each album meticulously reviewed by ardent loyalists who penned their critiques. At WPRB I was a fairly inept deejay: neither particularly erudite nor technically proficient. My style was fast and loose and my artistic sensibilities hovered between “scattered” and “shattered.” I remember playing long, apoplectic interspersions of Edgar Allen Poe and David Allen Coe, which likely yielded no sonic value other than pure irritation of my long-suffering friend, Frank.

And then of course, there were the many serious discoveries — songs and albums which become the sonic armature for my own thought process, shaping the way I though about life and art. When I was a hack deejay at WPRB, I was probably more entrenched in the rhapsodic cacophony of young adulthood than than the finer nuances of music…but even so, how very sweet…LONG LIVE WPRB!

-Lily Prillinger ’97


WPRB as “The Voice of the Campus”, by Paul Dunn


Working at WPRU or, in fact, having anything to do with broadcasting was the farthest thing from my mind the first time I entered the station in the early fall of 1954. I was simply fleeing from a group of sophomores who were trying to steal my beanie, which all freshman had to wear then. Holder Hall was the sophomore dorm, but we had to pass through this enemy territory to get to the Commons to eat. A month or so later, a few of my friends and I came up with the idea that WPRU, which, at that time, didn’t sign on till 8 pm Sundays, should have a classical music program Sunday afternoons. We had met some members of the station — Art Hulnich ’57 comes to mind — and we proposed the idea of a Sunday afternoon program called Sunday Sketchbook, and it was eventually accepted. It was not long till I was thoroughly addicted to life in the basement of Holder. (more…)

The John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) Station ID

Here’s the Public Image Limited frontman, former Sex Pistol, and dairy product spokesman laying it all on the line for WPRB. For a time, personalized station IDs from popular college radio acts were frequently circulated to stations in a (corny but probably pretty effective) effort to increase a band’s airplay. The John Lydon/PiL ID likely coincided with the release of “Album” in 1986.


Digitized by Aida Garrido.

Early 80s Tin Lizzie Garage Commercial

The Tin Lizzie Garage was a local bar (later strip club) in Kingston, New Jersey that advertised with WPRB for a spell during the 1980s. Here’s an ad from that era, voiced by Bill Rosenblatt ’83, John Bailo ’82, and Mike Webber ’81.

Bill Rosenblatt recalls:

[WPRB] didn’t have that much to do with the Tin Lizzie Garage – it was a fairly divey bar in a strip mall in Kingston that usually had cover bands, Bruce Springsteen wannabes, that kind of thing. They ran some ads; we hardly ever promoted any of the music.  There was one exception, though: the Dixie Dregs(more…)