1960s Archives - WPRB History
Currently browsing category


1969 WPRB Aircheck

I recently received a CD-R containing WPRB airchecks from station alum Peter Charapko. He writes:

“Enclosed are two copies of programs of mine, May 16 1969, and October 4 1969. They include musical selections, news and public affairs announcements, and discourse typical of our progressive rock “animate sound” daytime format. Significant for me, and for many of the students, these two shows bracket the summer before and after [Princeton] University beginning coeducation… That summer, many of us at the station [also] attended Woodstock.”

He goes on to describe various aspects of WPRB during this era, including daily life in the station’s then-home in the basement of Holder Hall:

“Studios and business offices were below the eleventh entry of Holder Hall. At that time we conducted ‘voice tests’ to qualify for a broadcast program; most shows were engineered by the announcer, who also switched to an adjacent studio, for example, to news reporters. Candidates trained several weeks with other announcers before [earning] FCC Third Class Licenses. As Chief Announcer during 1970, I was privileged to be able to phone announcers on the air—usually to compliment, and at times, to offer constructive critique.”

Nearly 50 years later, Peter seems well-suited to this task, as he has the cool and laid back vibe of that era’s most fondly-remembered broadcasters. Embedded below are a few (scoped) samples from Peter’s contribution to the growing WPRB History Archives. Look for more in a future post!


1968 Princeton – NYU Basketball Excerpt

Text: Edward Labowitz ’70

[Download Princeton / NYU Basketball Excerpt, 1968] (19.5mb MP3 File)

Gregg [Lange] and I broadcast the (Men’s, as there were no Women’s) Basketball games on WPRB during our years, 1966-1970. During freshman year, ’66-’67, the team was ranked third in the nation and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. However, as fledgling freshmen, we did not broadcast many of the games, but watched and listened to our mentors, John Barnard ’69 and Hal Pote ’68.

We were the regular broadcasters in ’67-’68, ‘68-‘69, and much of ‘69-‘70, until senior theses began to occupy our time and our successors took the mic.

I recently found a ¼ tape of the last 18 minutes of game time of the NYU-Princeton game, in early December 1968. I transferred the tape to digital, and it is a good thing I did, because it was beginning to deteriorate. The first 1:15 is a bit garbled, but the rest is fine. I am doing the play-by-play, Gregg does a bit of color toward the end of the game, and John Barnard does the post-game wrap-up. Our engineer was either John Bongiovani ’70 or Tom Kendrick ’72. This was the sixth game of the season, which Princeton won, making it 3-3 at that point. The Tigers went on to a 19-7 season, which was Pete Carril’s second year at Princeton. NYU, of course, eliminated its intercollegiate basketball program many years ago. This may be the last extant recording of any NYU basketball game. (more…)

LISTEN: Singing Station IDs by the Tigertones

William Borchard (class of 1960) recently submitted an acetate disc of WPRB station breaks, as performed by University a cappella group, the Tigertones. Below are his written recollections of the recordings’ origins, as well as interleaved ‘Listen’ links to hear them.


In 1957, I wandered over to Holder Hall and became an on-air engineer at WPRB. In those days, we had vinyl LPs and 45s (in quite an extensive record library), and large reel to reel Ampex tape recorders. The engineer played the records and the announcer was on the other side of the glass. We had a teletype machine that sent us the United Press International feed, and that is what we read for the newscasts on each hour.

There were no women undergrads or cars in those days. All we did was drink. But Dave Fullhart, a WPRB executive, was permitted to have his white station wagon, with antennas all over it and WPRB on the door, in order to carry equipment to remote locations. It was all very serious, exciting and fun.

One evening we got everyone on campus to tune in and played “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets over and over again. The students opened their windows and played it loud all over campus. Then they started a riot which got out of hand. As a result, the University banned us from playing that song ever again.

I started doing the remote broadcast of the Sunday Chapel service each week and finally I got my own one-hour show on Saturday mornings. It was called “Saturday Morning Showcase” playing mostly standard pop music. I got Jimmy Stewart to record a spot announcement about my show when he came to Princeton. I also got some townie girls to swoon over my show in a spot. I think by then I was doing the engineering and announcing myself.

And . . . . I wrote the singing station breaks. I had my high school music teacher arrange them, and I convinced the Tigertones to record them. I played them on my program but I doubt anyone else played them. Standards were lax, the AM signal was carried through the electric lines, and the FM signal could only be heard on or close to campus, so the audience generally was small, if any. It did not matter because we just assumed someone was listening—I think my roommate listened sometimes.

I still love radio, and am a strong supporter of New York Public Radio WNYC.

WPRB in the Daily Princetonian: Recruiting

[embeddoc url=”http://www.wprbhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/recruiting.pptx” viewer=”microsoft”]

Does modulation excite you? Asking for a friend. WPRB has used all sorts of different methods over the years to lure new student DJs. This slideshow documents some of the best from the 1940s-1970s.

Rob Schuman ’74 sifted through The Daily Princetonian‘s extensive archive, looking at all 8,000 unique mentions of WPRB. He’s compiled the most interesting into this series of slideshows.

John Catlett Reflects on WPRB at 75

Here’s another great reason to support WPRB during this week’s 75th anniversary membership drive from John Catlett ’64—a man with a fascinating radio résumé that extends well beyond WPRB (as you’ll hear in the clip below.)

John further recalls his time at WPRB:

“It was that Fall [1963] as I recall that one of our students who had spent his summer in Europe came into our studios with a single record by a new singing group he said was getting a lot of attention in England. I don’t know if he had brought with him a pressing from England, so I don’t know if there’s any chance we were the first station in America to play “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” but we must have been one of the first. By the Beatles, of course.”

Announcing WPRB’s Public Exhibit!

We’re thrilled to announce the long-planned second phase of WPRB’s 75th anniversary celebrations (the first being the launch of this website): a physical exhibit of station history and esoterica, which will be on display at Princeton University’s Mudd Library through May of 2016, and which is open to the public!

Titled “WPRB: A Haven for the Creative Impulse”, and curated by WPRB’s Mike Lupica and Princeton University Archivist Dan Linke, the exhibit is a meatspace version of the kind of materials we’ve been highlighting on this website. On display are vintage photographs, playlists, documents, selections from WPRB’s vinyl record library, vintage broadcast equipment, and much more. There is also an interactive content station that allows visitors to browse audio selections and WPRB-related news clippings from the last 75 years.

“WPRB: A Haven for the Creative Impulse” is a free exhibit which is open to the public. The exhibit is housed in the Wiess Lounge at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 65 Olden Street, in Princeton, New Jersey. (Right around the corner from Hoagie Haven!) Viewing hours are Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 4:45 PM.

More info.


1967: WPRB Shows MOR to the Door

By Rupert Macnee ’69

When I arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1966, I brought a suitcase full of British pop records of the era. I very quickly realized that all these records were knock-offs of what was happening in the United States. Motown was flourishing. I discovered Blues and Jazz and even though Chuck Berry was a disappointment at one of our dances, I was deeply in awe of the rich heritage of American music.

WPRB was at that time firmly devoted to MOR – easy listening like Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, classics in their way, but not exactly 1966 teenage stuff. I got a spot on the WPRB roster because Boyd Britten, (later “Doc on the Rock” at KROQ in Los Angeles), thought my voice sounded like the world service of the BBC.

After a year of this dreadful music – well I thought it was then – I went back to England for the summer of 1967. Apart from Sergeant Pepper, it was the summer of Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and Cream. When I got back to Princeton in the fall of 1967 the playlist opened up a bit, and for a few months we did daily shows featuring loud rock and roll from a mobile set-up in one window of the University Store. It was fun to wander around on the sidewalk with a microphone interviewing passers-by and playing the latest batch of records from England. I’m firmly convinced that WPRB actually premiered a good many records that didn’t really kick off in the U.S. until early 1968.

WPRB was also a great facility for recording and mixing. I did the music for several films in that tiny studio – Barry Miles playing Harpsichord, Al Price, Oliver Whitehead, Jim Floyd, Lindsay Holland, Vincent Gregory, all were much-appreciated contributors to some less than memorable epics!

WPRB’s Coverage of the Vietnam Moratorium

It was fall of 1969. Despite the recent reduction of troop levels, over 475,000 young men were still fighting in Vietnam—most of them conscripted. Young people from all walks of life were getting drafted into the army, including many Princeton students and graduates. As was the case on many college campuses at the time, Princeton experienced a growth in campus unrest in protest of the Vietnam War.

On October 15, 1969, Princeton, along with hundreds of other campuses across the nation, participated in a national moratorium against the war. The Peace Moratorium is believed to have been the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved. At Princeton, this included a day of teach-ins, speeches, and demonstrations. WPRB’s News Department covered the event live.


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.


WPRB DJs Arrested in Washington, 1970

[Jeff Weiser (left) and Bruce Snyder help cover the 1972 election live on the air.]

By Douglas B. Quine

I joined WPRB in my freshman year of 1969-1970 and trained on WPRB-AM before serving as a newsman at the May Day protest demonstration in Washington (1970) and the election night headquarters of Nixon and McGovern (1972). In Princeton, I took on the folk & blues shows on WPRB-FM, served as Traffic Director and assistant business manager, and finally served on the Ivy Network Board of Directors.

I have many memories of WPRB, including lighting fluorescent lamps by the radiated antenna power on Holder Tower, talking with stoned listeners who called into the studios, organizing the Beach Boys, Fish, Jean Shepherd, Weather Report, & Poco concerts, and the first WPRB Tee Shirts (blue shirts with a yellow smudge at the bottom which was supposed to represent a voice print). The stories that I’ve retold the most times, however, must be the “WPRB arrests in Washington” and “The Do Me Bird”.