1- This photo collage (above) was on the door to the music office for my tenure as music director. The photo was taken of me when Dan Ruccia (outgoing music director) and I were starting to really unpack and decorate (rehanging some old posters from [WPRB’s old studios in] Holder [Hall] and hanging some new ones, along with junk CDs and other summer staff/intern coloring book doodles among other things that made it the cavern of greatness that it is today). Bloomberg Hall (then known simply as “The Ellipse”) was made into a home over the course of one semester and one summer …..Where the moose collage element came from continues to mystify me!
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.
Years on air: 2004-2006
Favorite bands: Joy Division, Andrew Bird, Cat Power, Devendra Banhart, T. Rex, Caribou.
Memorable on-air moment: Receiving a request for “Fistful of Love” by Antony and the Johnsons from a federal prisoner.
Advice for current WPRB DJs: Don’t be afraid to mix genres–some of my favorite playlists were the ones that had songs that didn’t seem to go together at all but somehow worked. You don’t always have to have a premeditated theme. And sometimes it’s okay to go mainstream. (I got a lot of flack for listening to Franz Ferdinand but I have no regrets.)
[By Stephanie Obodda. Photo by Dr. Cosmo.]
I have a lot of WPRB memories, but the most important is my first. When I got to Princeton in 1998, the social life seemed so homogeneous and it didn’t take me long to realize I wouldn’t fit in with the [University’s] eating club scene. I was already resigned to spend the next four years in my dorm room listening to music alone when fellow freshman Alex Wood and I decided to check out the radio station. The first time I walked into the tech shop and Phil Taylor handed me a soldering iron, I knew I’d found my happy place!
Even pulling a 2am shift, you were never alone in the studio. You were in the company of hundreds of former DJs who’d left their handwritten reviews on record and CD covers.
Pictured below, by Stephanie’s request, WPRB’s copy of Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Silence is Sexy”—a favorite of her era. (Hilariously tagged as “German R&B” by former WPRB DJ and Treblequake host, Brian Farmer.)
Years on air: 2007-2010
Favorite bands (of the era): Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Caribou, The Books, Bill Callahan, Menomena.
Memorable on-air moment: Live-broadcast of the series finale for Rock Blastaar and the Radio Rangers! Also, not technically ON-air, but near it: painting the studio mural with paint fumes in the unventilated basement!
Advice for current WPRB DJs: Explore the station’s amazing record collection by wheeling open an unfamiliar cabinet, and push yourself to curate as eclectic a program as possible!
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.
Years on air: 2005-2008
Favorite bands: Dengue Fever, Ken Nordine, Soft Machine, Four Tet, anything on Daptone Records or the Numero Group.
Memorable on-air moment: Creating the Rock Blastaar radio plays for WPRB’s inaugural drive, and performing the finale live on-air.
Advice for current WPRB DJs: Listeners can’t rewind; it’s only a mistake if you act like it’s a mistake.
Years on air: 2002-2007
Favorite bands: Auktyon, Bettye Swann, Mogollar, Dengue Fever, Las Malas Amistades, Alemayehu Eshete. This just barely scrapes the surface, but these are probably my most frequently played.
Memorable on-air moment: I don’t know if I have one in particular, but I sure do miss all those shows hanging with my girls (fellow DJ’s Andrea Lee, Kate Poole, Angelica Reilly and Rachel Younger), playing crazy world music for hours, and having stoned townies call in to tell me I was blowing their mind.
Advice for current WPRB DJs: Don’t be afraid to dig through the stacks (especially the world music stacks!) Like all good things, music tastes evolve. You never know what amazing things you will find hidden in the back. So stop only playing things you are familiar with!
Bonus audio #1: Tesla voices the promo for her show
Bonus audio #2: Tesla voices the “WPRB/Soviet” station ID.
Note: Tesla’s show was called Gde mui bili e gde mui budem which, in her self-described ‘broken Russian’ translates to where we were and where we will be.
Years on air: 2002-2006: Mixtape Maker/Heartbreaker. 2006-2014: Clean Yr Room (w/ Art Andrews) and Born Inflamed.
Favorite bands: Modern Lovers, Dead Moon, The Replacements, Arthur Russell, Kate Bush, Screaming Females, Beat Happening. Favorite bands I found through WPRB: Half Man Half Biscuit, Red Krayola, The Mekons, Television Personalities, The Soft Boys, Desperate Bicycles, Silkworm, Meredith Monk, that crazy closed-loop record that has 500 tracks on it.
Memorable on-air moment: The time I tried to explain to Wilbo that I self-identified with the cover of Blurt’s In Berlin LP in deep deep ways. It was, needless to say, a confusing moment for both of us.
Advice for current WPRB DJs: Keep it weird, and DON’T DRINK THE BLEACH. Outside of the WPRB studios and on the rest of the dial, life can get pretty bland and bleached out. Your show can be a portal or it can be par-for-the-course. In the style of Hawkwind’s weirdly delivered monologues: “CHOOSE WISELY, MORTAL BEING.”*
*Not an actual endorsement of Hawkwind.
Bonus audio! Here’s Julia providing a non-verbal impression of the drum fill from Big Star’s “September Gurls” in WPRB’s infamous “Fish Fingers” station ID.
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…)