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WPRB in Miniature

Words: Kelsey Halliday Johnson

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!

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(Radio) Revolution Girl-Style Now!

Image: “There’s a Dyke in the Pit” 7″ compilation, Outpunk Records, 1992.
[Text: Gayle Wald and Joanne Gottlieb]

WPRB’s “Ladies First” aired Monday nights at 9 PM beginning in the summer of 1992. The original idea was for a show that featured female artists and that interrogated what “women’s” music could sound like. It was one a few radio shows in the New York-to-Philadelphia area that routinely featured music from the burgeoning Riot Grrrl movement of women in indie rock. The title of the show was taken from a track by Queen Latifah and Monie Love on Queen Latifah’s groundbreaking debut LP, “All Hail the Queen”. The original promo invited lady listeners to tune in and “liberate your radios!”

DOWNLOAD: 11 Page PDF of Ladies First playlists from 1992

LISTEN: “Ladies First” promo #1


Below is the transcript of a conversation between co-hosts Gayle Wald (Grad ’95) and Joanne Gottlieb (Grad ’02) about the show and its origins.

Gayle Wald:  Joanne, how do you remember getting involved with “Ladies First” and WPRB?

Joanne Gottlieb:  I got involved with WPRB in the spring of 1990 – my friend and fellow grad student Christian Perring suggested we do the training for the station/FCC license together, and we started doing our respective shows that summer. As an undergrad, I had had a boyfriend who was a college radio DJ, and doing college radio seemed like one of the coolest things you could do, short of being in a band yourself. Doing the WPRB training was also a way to spend more time with Christian, on whom I had a big crush. (We got together that spring.) I guess my involvement with music has always had a big connection to the men in my life. (more…)

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.

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On the Lasting Benefits of the WPRB Experience

[By Dave Forrest ’60]

Reminiscences of the heroic age of PRB in the late 50’s retain their noble lustre beneath the encrusted molluscs and other crud of time. Other contributors to this [project] will no doubt limn the brilliant PRB trajectories of such mythic figures as Siggins, Crowther, McGuire, Dunn, Fuellhart, McCracken, Miller, McGiffert, Fleishhaker, Medina, et al. and the promulgated joys of midcult and masscult offerings of the station.

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The Legend of WPRB’s Hypnotized Cheese

Few on-air promos enjoy the kind of reputation this pair of early 90s WPRB recordings promoting the station’s “Hypnotized Cheese” t-shirts do. Apart from being one of the most popular shirts ever produced by the station (in its day, the Hypnotized Cheese guy could be frequently spotted in the crowd on any given night at Maxwell’s or the Khyber Pass), the on-air spots used to hawk them were almost as ubiquitous as the shirts themselves. (Listeners would routinely call and request them. Jon Solomon claims to have received one such request within the last year!)

To properly honor the legacy of WPRB’s Hypnotized Cheese mascot (who also appeared on the cover of a printed program guide which you can check out in our upcoming exhibit of station history at Princeton University’s Mudd Library), here are the two original promos. These spots were voiced, written, and produced by Matthew Robb (Myron), John Clements (Robin Leach impersonator), and Hugh Hynes (production).

Hypnotized Cheese Promo #1


Hypnotized Cheese Promo #2

Bonus: Here are scans of the original scripts and production notes for each.

Promo 1 || Promo 2

A limited-run, 20th anniversary edition of the Hypnotized Cheese t-shirt was produced as a special fundraising item back in 2012. It sold out rapidly, proving the design’s enduring appeal. Will there be a third edition? Time will tell…

In the meantime, here’s the video for Spectrum’s “How You Satisfy Me”, which served as background music in Promo #1 and was, by all accounts, one of the biggest WPRB hits of the era.