Long-time listener (and newly-minted WPRB fill-in DJ!) Donna Bee sends this amazing image, which she says was her entry in a late 70s/early 80s WPRB-sponsored photo contest. We have no idea if this was the winning entry, what the prize was, of if there even was a prize, but wow—great picture, right?
Former WPRB DJ Douglas Quine ’73 recently submitted a small pile of early 70s WPRB aircheck cassettes for our review. We’re now in the midst of digitizing them, and the audio goodies are practically throwing themselves at us already. Witness: this great promo for the annual WPRB-sponsored Jean Shepherd gig in Princeton.
For the sake of convenience, we’re pairing it with the above image of a Shep gig poster from around the same time, which someone anonymously donated (OK, “abandoned” is actually a better word for it) during the station’s 75th Anniversary banquet last year. Stay tuned for more audio from the WPRB/Quine archives in the coming days!
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…)
I started at WPRB in the fall of 1970. During the previous spring, four students were killed by the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio. When President Nixon ordered the bombing of Cambodia in late May Princeton, along with many other schools across the country, went on strike and officially shut down the University in protest.
The WPRB news department was deeply involved in covering the protest demonstrations and “Teach-Ins” on campus. We were the only instant communication outlet for the community, and took our mission seriously. Our news and actualities from both students and professors were fed to an ad-hoc network of Ivy League radio stations as well directly to the newsrooms of the major commercial radio networks.
I vividly remember crowding around the WPRB UPI ticker machine with others in my class waiting to see what my draft lottery number would be. With student deferments cancelled, if you got a low lottery number you could be plucked out of Princeton and conscripted to fight in Vietnam.
In 1972, I sold commercial airtime to the George McGovern for President campaign. (Cash in advance of course). We covered the Presidential election, crowding into studio A to broadcast election returns in between musical breaks. We also sent station reporters to the New Jersey candidate’s headquarters to cover the election night speeches. That’s how I learned that the open bar for the press closes as soon as your candidate is declared the loser.
I have lots of other memories of WPRB including a sports road trip when the PA announcer boomed to the entire arena, “WPRB—call your station, you’re off the air”. There was also the first summer on air, paid for in part by joining the New York Mets radio network. And I still have the now useless skill of being able to “slip cue” a record album.
Text: Rob Schuman
This is one of the first coverage maps from WPRB, produced shortly after the station went to full 17,000 watts of effective radiated power. Mapping radio reception is a tricky business, even today. FM waves don’t go around objects the way AM signals do. You just don’t know how far your signal will go until you actually go out and measure it. This is therefore an approximation of signal strength based on a 50 microvolt signal contour, which, I am told, means that you can still get it some places with a strong antenna, and a good FM tuner, and the luck of good geography.
Probably the most interesting thing about this map is the fact that there is a blank space where New York City is located. It’s almost as if New York didn’t exist (and it didn’t so far as WPRB was concerned, since it was probably overwhelmed by the neighbor stations on 103.1 and 103.5. In any event, it was designed to be used by the sales department to show how powerful we were.
Text: Marc Fisher ’80 | Photo: Rob Schuman ’74
The Magic of Radio was a late-night, sometimes all-night, program that aired once a week from about 1977 to 1980. It was a mix of music, juvenile nonsense, brilliant satire and pathetically bad taste.
We tried to stay as close to the legal and moral edge as possible. We had a weatherman with a speech impediment that rendered him entirely incomprehensible. We had a substitute weatherman who was sentenced to stand at an (imaginary) outdoor phone booth in Kingston whenever there was significant snow or, his personal favorite, freezing rain. We had a sports reporter who never once made it on the air; he always seemed to be delayed at a bar across the street. The news was read by Gus Gil, whose booming voice made the acts of a New Jersey state magistrate seem like the coming of the Lord.
[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.
Years on air:
Favorite bands/musicians: David Bromberg, Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, Beppe Gambetta, Dan Bern, Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Randy Newman. Lacy J. Dalton, Chuck Brodsky, Bruce Hornsby.
Memorable on-air moment: When I started and had an early morning show, a woman called in and said, “Young man, do you realize you are in Princeton, New Jersey? This is not Nashville.”
Advice for current WPRB DJs: From time to time while you are alone (and preferably driving), listen to a recording of your show and make sure nothing about it annoys you and makes you think about switching the station.
[By Ted Stern ’76]
Yes, there actually was one summer where I spent my vacation doing the 6AM morning show. It seemed like a cushy enough job, and no one else wanted to do It. I soon found out why. With only a skeleton crew of students around, and most of them here because they partied too much during the semester, some late nights sort of tended to develop. Soon I was dragging myself out of bed just to make it to the station in time to play the opening cart with all those fascinating statistics (how far does 17,000 watts go anyway), never mind shove a cup of coffee down me first. But then I developed a system: There were a few eclectic German bands in the rabbits [aka vinyl stacks] with some twenty-two minute tracks—boring avante-garde gibberish, but just long enough to Iet me make it to the deli just off of the main drag, grab a doughnut, and scoot back. (more…)
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.