July 2015 - WPRB History
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July 2015

Friday WPRB DJ Pinup: Scott Lowe!

Years on air: 1985-1991. I was barely in high school when I got the radio bug in 1984 and managed to score a weekly show at another nearby college station, but getting on WPRB became a goal, which happened a year later. I became a volunteer DJ during seasonal breaks, plus emergency fill-ins during the school year. I’m not sure there were any other WPRB DJs as young as I was at the time.  Since then, my professional career in radio has taken me all over from stations in Philly to Los Angeles. I continue to champion new music and push the envelope with the spirit of college radio as my inspiration.

Favorite bands: XTC, The Fall, Let’s Active, Elvis Costello, New Order, Talking Heads and Devo are among my all-time picks.

Memorable on-air moment: At WPRB, I got to interview Martin Atkins (Public Image Ltd./Brian Brain), Dramarama, Salem 66, Chris Hartford and my fellow schoolmates, Dean and Gene Ween before they were signed to a label.  A lesser fond memory would be the cockroaches in the basement of Holder Hall that were the size of your thumb!

Advice for current WPRB DJs: The role of a WPRB DJ is part showbiz.  Remember, when the mic is on, you’re in the spotlight. Be prepared with what you’re going to say and have fun.

Bonus Audio: Here’s a pair of mic breaks from Scott’s show, circa 1987.



The Razor Sharp Mind of WPRB’s Jeff Meyers

Photo: Jeff Meyers (aka Rod St. John) with Jean Shepherd
Text: Gregg Lange

The late 1960s was a highly active and diverse era for WPRB. News staffers aggressively covered coeducation, plus anti-war and civil rights demonstrations; the sports department traveled with Ivy champion football and nationally-ranked basketball teams; classical music was beginning to assert itself seriously; and the earlier preponderance of middle-of-the-road music was blown away by underground rock and a fabulous jazz department that appeared almost overnight, experimental specialty programs and even a highly popular Top-40 show, all by students. Meanwhile, the station sponsored concerts of all sorts, and its annual presentation of raconteur Jean Shepherd at Alexander Hall became the stuff of radio legend.


“All those records—Who knew what they might hold?”

By Matthew H. Robb ’94 (center, looking skeptical at Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ)
DJ from 1991-1997; 1999-2000
Jazz Director ’92; Program Director ’93
Also pictured above: Greg Lyon (left), Evan Bates (right)

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now and it’s funny to me how non-specific most of my WPRB memories are. There are definitely some concrete ones – I’m pretty sure I was in the old studio A / aux sorting records when the on-air DJ, who I am confident was Scott Crater, put on Superchunk’s Cool 7” and that just pretty much changed my life. It somehow coalesced everything I knew about music (well, alternative and punk music) up until that point and blew it wide open. But maybe that’s getting ahead of things.

I knew a little about radio when I was high school, volunteering at the local public radio station, and I was was of those alternative music teenagers—lots of New Order, the Cure, etc. Add to that an older brother whose tastes ran to the Jam, Elvis Costello, the Clash, and the Replacements, and growing up in the south with a certain familiarity with the Athens scene. I was definitely a pop kid more than a punk kid – the glasses made going to hardcore shows a little nerve-wracking when I was in high school, and the punk scene in north Alabama felt a little too aggro for me. So Josh Wise and I would listen to a lot of Pixies and REM and trade notes and records. That mixtape culture, way too may VHS recordings of 120 Minutes and IRS’ the Cutting Edge – that’s what I had when I walked into my first DJ training sessions (with Mike Graff, I believe). And seeing those stacks I started to realize how little I knew.


Friday WPRB DJ Pinup: Ron Coleman!

Years on air: 1981-1985. I started doing [late night] graveyard [shows] — lots of them; it was like a drug! — my first semester of freshman year and came back to do Christmas shows when everyone else left campus and any help with filling air slots was appreciated. (Before I got married, I still lived with my parents in East Windsor and of course was home for breaks during law school.)

Favorite Bands: In my salad days on ‘PRB I was always certain to play Elvis Costello, The Clash, Joe Jackson and DEVO. I recognize how pedestrian that comes across now; it did then also. Thank God for the rotation system by which the PD’s taught me a thing or two! I also liked to play the Sex Pistols, Laurie Anderson and even Run-DMC. Unlike any other jock at the time, I’d also play Springsteen.


LISTEN: Late 70s Interview with George Gallup Jr.

Here’s an excellent interview with George Gallup Jr. conducted by WPRB’s John Shyer at some point in 1977 or 1978. Gallup graduated from Princeton University in 1953, and along with his brother Alec, became an executive for their father’s well-known polling company, The Gallup Organization. The interview is a fascinating window into the evolution of polling as a component of the American political process. Here’s a remarkable exchange, especially given recent developments in campaign finance law:

Shyer: [Regarding] any of the election reform bills that are taking effect now and have been passed in the last few years, do you think they’re improving the situation?

Gallup Jr. : No, it’s just hogwash. To unseat a Congressman today, an incumbent, requires… probably in the neighborhood of one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Who has that kind of money?

Right-click to download, or listen to the full interview using the player below.



LISTEN: Artificial Artifacts cover “Gilligan’s Island”

I started listening to WPRB during the summer of 1985 or 1986. For a misfit kid who’d not yet established a strong sense of self-identity, everything WPRB played at that time seemed utterly revelatory in comparison to the bar-band hokum, limp dance tracks, and horrific hair-metal that populated the corporate airwaves of the day. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to become completely hooked. One of the first bands I associated with the station was a local hardcore act called Artificial Artifacts. They did a ridiculous cover of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, which (I soon discovered) many WPRB programmers were happy to honor requests for. THIS IS THE STORY OF THAT BAND, THAT SONG, AND THE NOW-OBSOLETE TECHNOLOGY NEEDED TO PLAY IT. (As told by Artificial Artifacts member, former WPRB DJ, and noted filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig.) -Mike Lupica

Glenn Tucker and I were roommates at Trenton State College in 1985 where I was production manager and a DJ at WTSR 91.3 FM doing the Jeff Eph show (also known as “Radio Of The Absurd.”)  [A guy named] Gene was in a hardcore band named Send Help who had a 45 out titled “Buffy’s Dead” on the super cool Long Branch NJ Brighton Bar label Mutha Records owned by a leather and chains biker named Mark “The Mutha” Chesley. This of course spoofed the TV show Family Affair.  Here’s a link to the song and cover art.

John and Dave Tamp, along with Adam Bushman, were friends of Glenn’s from New Brunswick where we used to rehearse in a wild crumbling space owned by the leader of Terry Hughes and the Backyard Party. Terry also hosted Monday night jam sessions at the Court Tavern.

After hearing the Dickies and Circle Jerks do humorous covers and particularly ISM doing the fantastic Partridge Family cover of “I Think I Love You”, we were inspired to tackle Gilligan’s Island which we recorded live to 2 track in some cheap basement studio in Princeton on a reel of used 1/4″ tape from WTSR.

DOWNLOAD or LISTEN: Artificial Artifacts – “Gilligan’s Island”


Xenakis Liner Notes of the Gods

By Narin Dickerson (above)

I started out listening to WPRB during my freshman year (1999), but I didn’t become involved as a DJ until, I think, 2001. One of my first recollections of WPRB was tuning in shortly after I’d moved into my dorm and hearing someone read from the Q section of the dictionary. I’d grown up with somewhat experimental radio theatre sneaking into the overnight hours of my now-all-too-tame local NPR affiliate, so this made me excited and curious for more.  (more…)

1977 Blackout Coverage from the Top of Holder Tower

By Rob Forman ’78

Just past 9:00 on the evening of July 13th, 1977 (or maybe it was 10:00), the phone rang as [Edgar Winter’s] “Frankenstein” blared from the Control A speakers. It was a listener asking whether I knew about a blackout that supposedly hit New York.

I checked the UPI machine, and returned to tell the caller that the wire had nothing about a blackout. Of course I soon figured out WHY the machine said nothing. At :15 past  the hour, the ABC network scrambled onto the air from Washington. Its New York operation, and who knew how much else, were in the dark. The fun at WPRB  was underway. So was what may have been the greatest audience coverage in the station’s history. Without power, New York stations that neighbored us on the FM dial  were off the air. Station members David Kurman in Mineola, Long Island, and Chris Fine near the Connecticut border in Harrison, New York, called to say I was booming in. I put Chris on the air with a report on his blacked-out but very peaceful neighborhood. John Shyer reported from the top of Holder Tower, “to the southwest, there is a glow in the sky. It is Philadelphia. But in the direction of New York, the sky is black…”

LISTEN: John Shyer reports on the NYC blackout from the top of Holder Tower. (Includes off-air technical strategizing between Rob and John.)


Friday WPRB DJ Pinup: Jen Moyse!

[Photo from the “Hey You Kids Get Off My Lawn” archives]

Years on air: 1990-1999 (living nearby had its perks.)

Favorite bands: The Life and Times, Caspian, Moving Mountains, MC5, The Appleseed Cast, Shiner, Trail of Dead…there are so many.

Memorable on-air moment: When I was a sophomore, I made a casual request over the air for someone to help me locate a hard-to-find 7″ single I had just played, and coveted. A short while later, I got a call from a nice guy who offered to come down to the station and give me his copy. That was the day I discovered that people really *were* listening — and met my future longtime cohost and fanzine cofounder (and the mastermind behind the WPRB archive project), Mike Lupica. I still treasure that single.

Advice for current WPRB DJs: Explore the stacks, play everything, learn all you can, get involved, and have fun! If you’re having a great time, your listeners will, too.

Bonus content! Here’s a quick mic break of Jen back-announcing a set of music from 5.29.93.




LISTEN: “Music You Can’t Hear on the Radio” promos, 1977

[WPRB’s John Weingart — “Radio With Feet”]

WPRB’s John Shyer ’78 recently unloaded a box of archival airchecks on us which he claimed had been stashed in the back of his closet for decades. Dating from the mid-late 1970s, these airchecks were on both 1/4″ reel as well as cassette, and unlike most of PRB’s native collection, were all in perfect condition (no creeping black mold!)

As such, we were pretty excited to dig in and see what treasures lurked within. Here are the first fruits from the cassette pictured below: a trio of 1977-era promos for John Weingart’s “Music You Can’t Hear on the Radio” — a longtime staple of WPRB’s schedule, which is still heard on a weekly basis every Sunday night from 7-10 PM.



Stay tuned for more from John Shyer’s incredible archives in the coming months!