Wednesday, January 11, 2012

U of D's WVUD now at 6800 watts - a 43 year history

43 years ago the first words heard on U of D campus radio station were, “WHEN is Now....and you ain't heard nothin' yet!” Plagiarizing Al Jolson's famous line from the first 'talkie' in 1927 probably was not the subtlest of gestures that General Manager Greer Firestone on this honor bound campus, but my guest that day - UD President Arthur Trabant - remained cool and composed. Today 's WVUD 91.3 FM is a long way from the carrier current (phone lines) of that maiden year, which 'carried' on into the decade of the '70's .- 6800 watts away! Now with the capital campaign successfully completed, the swath of FM station extends past New Castle County and into the nearby environs of MD and PA. New transmitter, new antenna tower and fibre optics will do that. 1969 - that first year for me and my 'hand-picked' (read: friends from the dorm) staff. It was like one-armed Civil War Major John Wesley Powell strapped into his wooden rowboat navigating the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That took place in 1869. (See. You were asking yourself what connection the daring Major Powell had with Aisle Say and the UD radio station? His exploration was exactly 100 years apart and I assure you that our adventures were of similar derring do!) During the first year we had no clue what we were doing; but we had fun doing it. I do recall that we were bequeathed a particularly arrogant advisor, Bob Blake. Blake loved to say he had no enemies. That may have been true, but he was intensely disliked by his friends. While today VUD is a student run organization of approximately 70 volunteers, Steve Kramack, '93, is one of two paid staffers. Kramack attended A.I. Du Pont High School and as a senior, began his career at the station. “I knew what I wanted to do. The undergrads were not too keen about a high school kid hanging around. But, there I was, hanging around!” Four years of sports and morning shows, training and programming director and now the salaried Station Manager is married and with kids. In addition to the HD FM station, VUD has a second station called The Basement, entirely run by students. “A few students do join for they wish to have a career in studio, but far and away they enjoy this extracurricular as a hobby.” Every musical genre is touched in the block format instituted by Kramack. Student announcers follow the sports team. “We can see how popular the sports shows are by the online streaming. Football is off the charts and this year, with our successes, both men's and women's basketball are having a resurgence.” There are some old timers who have had their regular programs for decades. This aspect weaves a wonderful tapestry of tradition and knowledge. George Stewart has been on the air for over 40 years with two shows; SideTwo and Crazy College. Ron Smith recently celebrated the 33 1/3 year (get it?) of his blues program. VUD has been a feeder for regional radio stations, predominantly Delmarva Broadcasting WDEL, WSTW and Graffiti Radio. Company President Pete Booker was a former GM at the U of D. Says Booker, “When I was a student at UD, we had a less structured operation and we got to do pretty much what we wanted, but we tried hard to make it like “real radio”. The experience and the ability work with and eventually lead other dedicated performers gave me a real education in our business at a real young age. I started as a commercial broadcaster at age 17 and haven’t stopped! My UD Radio experience was 4 years of non-stop fun; one of the great times in my life!” Delmarva employs several grads including Robin Bryson, Sean Green, Mike Nigro and Brian Smith, among others. Their annual Radiothon is coming up. Listen online at

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