Thursday, July 28, 2011

College Radio

Posted to OGR on 05/08/2011

I have mentioned in this column before that I got my start in broadcasting back in the 1960s at WUSC, the college run radio station at the University of South Carolina. The day I walked through the doors of the station at the invitation of a friend who lived on my dorm hall changed my life forever. It opened me up to the world of “slip cues” and “segues,” news teletypes and weather wires, transmitters and turntables; all the things that made radio what it was back in the second Golden Age of Radio. As I gaze back across the mists of time. I can see clearly the old studio and equipment, those big 16 inch turntables, the reel to reel Ampex tape decks (we called them recorders back then,) the RCA 77DX microphones and the big old tube driven audio consoles with more knobs and switches than the bridge of the “Starship Enterprise”.

But most of all I see the bright smiling faces of the other kids as we worked together to make something special happen, a camaraderie coming together in a common cause. I made lifelong friends during the few years that I worked there; guys and gals that I still see today. Some of them, like me went into broadcasting as a career. Even though we sometimes worked for competing stations, later in life, the bonds that were formed in college were always stronger than the competitive spirit of going “head to head” in the search of those elusive Arbitron ratings and the commercial dollars from sponsors. The bonds of friendship transcended all of that. I still see one or two of my fellow “WUSC’ers” at our local monthly broadcaster’s breakfasts. Whenever we get together, it is almost like time has not passed.

Left: WUSC Alumni at last year's Alumni Weekend party.

About a decade after I left, the station moved from 730 on the AM dial to join the growing ranks of FM stations in the area. Currently the station is broadcasting FM and HD1 at 90.5 mHz. Programming changed with the times too. Back in our day, we played standards and a little “Top 40” rock and roll, today the station prides itself on being an alternative voice on the dial. They have a rule that they will not play any song that was on the top 40 during the past 40 years. I have kept up with the station and the hundreds of folks that have come through the station since I was there.

As part of my support of the station, each summer I fill in with a soul and blues show on Wednesday mornings. This year that starts this week. I look forward to opening the microphone switch and saying “You are listening to the radio voice of the University of South Carolina, WUSC FM!” then sharing with the current staffers that are around for the summer how we did radio back in the day! The studio will be alive again with the memories of the times and the friends of a lifetime. Oh MY!

Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley

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