WHRW 90.5 FM celebrated its 50th anniversary in February. But the student-run organization decided that the best way to celebrate would be a weekend-long Homecoming celebration.
WHRW’s first ever broadcast took place on Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in 1966. The station began as a free-format radio station and still remains as one, giving DJs control over what kind of content to air. This allows the shows to reflect the likes and interests of the student DJs.
Throughout the weekend, alumni were invited back onto the air for half-hour time slots.
Anthony Sileo, ’16, said the alumni were very receptive to this opportunity.
“They said, ‘I wanna come back here, I don’t care what else goes on — I just want to go back on the radio,’” Sileo said.
Douglas Foote, ’87, played what he calls an archival show that focused on updated technology of the music industry.
“When I left WHRW, we didn’t have CDs yet,” Foote said. “I sort of played a half-hour’s worth of my favorite songs and favorite bands that were represented and re-released in beautiful, remastered form.”
Michael Crane, ’82, wasn’t interested in going back on the air, and chose instead to hang out in the studio. The last time he spent time in the studio was at WHRW’s 40th anniversary, which took place right after the station moved into the new location in the New University Union basement.
“The new studios didn’t seem right to me,” Crane said. “But they do now and it’s because it’s worn and there’s a million posters and stickers on the wall, and that’s what it was like when I was here.”
Following the first day of shows, the alumni gathered at Thai Time for a night of food and drinks, accompanied by alumni serving as live DJs.
Gain Wein, ’82, was happy to so see everyone back together.
“I’ve had a great time,” Wein said. “Met some old friends, met some new friends and it’s nostalgia every which way.”
These events all led up to the WHRW’S 50th Anniversary Gala, which took place Saturday night in the Mandela Room. The event featured an open bar, dinner and an awards presentation. Additionally, the audience was given the opportunity to hear from
Joseph Bress, ’66, the station’s first general manager, followed by Samuel Titus, a senior majoring in English and the current general manager.
Bress shared many sentiments in relation to his connection to Harpur College and his desire to keep WHRW as a student-run station, which elicited a standing ovation from the crowd. He expressed his happiness in seeing that WHRW has maintained its independent status and hopes that it will continue as such.
“Some of you in this room may be at the 100th anniversary, and you want to be able to say that [WHRW] is as it was at the 50th and as it was at day one,” Bress said.
The importance of having these kind of events and keeping former relationships strong is evident in the story of Roger Pusey, ’85, former WHRW Latin news director, and Adine Schuman, ’87, former WHRW news director. The now-married couple knew each other during college, but didn’t get together until after graduation. The two stayed in touch, occasionally seeing each other at reunion parties.
“[WHRW] was an important part of our college years, for each of us separately, and that’s what brought us together,” Schuman said. “Go to the reunion parties — that’s our advice.”