WPRB in Miniature - WPRB History

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!

2- These cards (above) I designed as a simple takeaway in 2005 to continue broader regional outreach about the station in Philadelphia to new audiences, especially when we were sponsoring shows a the Khyber (the bar/music venue before it shuttered/became the modern gastopubish institution it is today). We didn’t have many things advertising we were streaming online at that point either, and the ways certain people engaged with radio was certainly shifting—so it was this funny moment of playing off a cheeky retro-aesthetic while talking about our website livestream. We really wanted to try to do more outreach via our ticket giveaways and show sponsorships, something that proved to be a fruitful mode of outreach right before we became a member-supported station and began asking our amazing listeners for money. When this was designed, I was underage, and so sponsoring and tabling shows at the Khyber was the best way to see some really rad bands without having to pay or show my ID to the bouncer.

3- Finally, an image from the charmingly thoughtful mixtape I received (and still have) as part of the Summer 2005 WPRB Mixtape Exchange. This was probably my most rewarding experience as a WPRB staffer; as music director I organized a listener-participation mixtape exchange. They simply had to send their Mix CD/Tape to the station with 2 dollars for return postage and we would pair them with another tape. All in all, I believe 54 people participated, which given the obvious love and care put into each one- some with custom illustrations and unbelievably diverse and prolific mixes, was just a tremendous amount of effort. I’m sure not all of these were made strictly from iTunes library (and a few were on cassette tapes), so in a moment of technological music transitions, this project felt especially prescient. Not to mention it was one of the most direct ways I have ever had the opportunity to experience the wealth of knowledge, curiosity, and eccentricities of our listener base. Now that this has come and gone I can admit that I had first choice of the submissions, and couldn’t help but select this one with its scroll-like wrapping and diaristic candid enthusiasm. It’s twee packaging (complete with glitter puffy paint) was contagious and continues to remind me of the awe and power of transformative music to this day.

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