Hi there! This is Abigail Shneyder, WESU Production Director, writing here. You might have read in a previous post about our 75 years’ celebration earlier this month. I produced the 75 years movie that showed at the event. Now I’m happy to share it on the interweb as well!
This video features the voices and faces of those who kept the station going over the last three-quarters of a century. If you watch closely, you’ll get a view of true underground radio (imagine thousands of wires running through steam tunnels below the university campus), free-form programming (for robots, of course), and Archibald Doty laughing about his time as a founder of the station so many years ago (thanks, Arch!). The video is exactly 8 minutes and 81 seconds long, or rather 9 minutes and 21 seconds, in honor of our most recent broadcasting frequency. Here’s to the next 75 years, WESU!
Welcome Back is a radio show produced and hosted by WESU GM, Ben Michael, that explores the lives and stories of some of the folks who’ve passed through the WESU studios over the years. Though conversations and interviews, we explore the rich history of one of the first student owned and operated radio stations in the country. We also talk about the value of WESU as service to the Wesleyan Community as well as our listeners throughout the CT River Valley. Below you’ll find links to each of the episodes, enjoy!
Arch Doty, 1939
Now-retired Arch Doty was one of the founders of WESU Middletown (then called WES) in 1939. He built his own radio transmitter and brought it to his Clark Hall dorm room, where the station started. 75 years later, it’s still going strong.
Howard Williams, Class of 1948 (pictured on left)
Howard, who once owned WESU’s predecessor WES from 1946-1948, has served as the president of CBS New York.
Mark J. Estren, Ph.D., Class of 1968
Dr. Mark Estren is an author and Pulitzer-winning journalist based in Fort Myers, Florida. He has produced for CBS Radio, worked for The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Miami Herald, and written an illustrated guide to underground comics and cartoons, A History of Underground Comics.
Erik Lovequist, Class of 1989
After his time at Wesleyan serving as both VP and General Manager at WESU, Erik worked in the music industry and entertained as a radio personality in his native Cape Cod. In 2013 he and his wife opened Lovequist Antiques, a boutique antique shop in Billerica, MA.
Jesse Sommer, Class of 2005
A Paratrooper and Judge Advocate with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Jesse also serves as head of marketing and development for The People of Channel 38, a web-based TV production company.
Andrea Silenzi, Class of 2007
Andrea is the Senior Producer of The Gist with MIke Pesca, a daily news show from Slate. She also hosts the radio show Why Oh Why every Wednesday 7-8pm ET on WFMU.
Jeremy Powell, Class of 2008
Jeremy works in the film industry in Los Angeles, having previously worked as an assistant to Darren Aronofsky and assisted in the production of The Muppets, The Protector, Political Animals, and The Last Ship.
Laurenellen McCann, Class of 2009
Laurenellen, who was recently included in Time Magazine’s 30 People Under 30 Changing the World, is currently a Civic Innovation Fellow at the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. She has also served as the executive producer of The Good Fight with Ben Wikler, a DC-based podcast and radio show covering politics, activism, and “stories about epic fights for justice.”
Ben Seretan, Class of 2010
Ben is a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist whose most recent self-titled LP can now be purchased on iTunes or his Bandcamp page.
Mickey Capper, Class of 2013
MIckey is a New York-based media specialist. He produces for Tape Radio and Crowd Noise, a radio show about live music.
Avery Trufelman, Class of 2013
A former WESU President, Avery is currently an assistant producer at 99% Invisible, an award-winning independent radio show about “design, architecture, and the 99% Invisible activity that shapes our world.”
from left: Danielle Pruitt, Rebecca Seidel, Rick Sinkiewicz, Matt Lesser, Ben Michael, Daniel Drew, Grady Faulkner, Joe Serra, and Cathy Lechowicz. Photo by David Bauer
Sunday, November 2nd, after touring an exhibit at Wesleyan’s Olin Library, elected city and state officials and university staff and faculty joined a large crowd of WESU volunteers and staff in Wesleyan’s Daniel Family Commons for an event commemorating the community radio station’s landmark 75th anniversary. State Representatives Matt Lesser and Joe Serra presented the WESU Board of Directors with a citation, and Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew was joined by Councilmen Grady Faulkner and David Bauer to present the station with a Proclamation from the City of Middletown.
The event began with a reception featuring food donated by several area restaurants and bakeries, including Taino Smokehouse, Realto Café, Illiano’s Italian Restaurant, Krust, Tandoor, and NoRA cupcakes of Middletown as well as Patty Cakes Italian Bakery of Rocky Hill/Glastonbury, and Great Wall Chinese Restaurant of Portland.
Following the reception, Danielle Pruitt (Wesleyan ’15), president of the WESU Board of Directors, and vice president Rebecca Seidel (Wesleyan ’15) spoke about the station’s mission to reach audiences who have been marginalized by mainstream media, and they introduced the debut screening of a new short film about the history of WESU, produced by WESU production director Abigail Shneyder. The eight-minute-81-second documentary illustrates how the station grew into a valuable community service over the last seven decades and features footage of Archibald Doty Jr., who brought radio to Wesleyan in the fall of 1939. The voice of Howard Williams (Wesleyan ’48) tells how the station almost disappeared in the wake of WWII and of the importance of media outlets like WESU that need not be commercially viable. The film also utilizes archival photos, documents, and program guides from Wesleyan University Special Collections, as well as snapshots of station staff over the years.
After the film presentation, Mayor Drew talked about the importance of independent media within the current state of media consolidation. Drew was joined by Councilmen Bauer and Faulkner in presenting the station with a Proclamation from the City commemorating Nov 2nd, 2014, as “WESU’s 75th Anniversary Day.” That was followed by the presentation of a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly, introduced by Reps. Matt Lesser (100th District) and Joe Serra (33rd District) and Sens. Dante’ Bartolomeo (13th District) and Paul Doyle (9th District).
Before the evening’s events concluded, Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Center for Community Partnerships at Wesleyan, and Ben Michael, WESU general manager, gave brief remarks about the important role WESU has played in fostering university and community engagement. The WESU Board of Directors will be presented with a citation from the city of Middletown at tonight’s Common Council meeting at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber of the Municipal Building.
Throughout 2014, WESU has been celebrating 75 years of Community Radio that matters with special programming, events, and exhibits. You can find related images, audio, and more online at www.wesufm.org, where you also can find a current program guide, live and archived streaming audio, and a link to make a donation to support WESU. The exhibit “WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio” offers an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States and is currently on display at Wesleyan’s Olin Library.
Check out this sampling of WESU program guides from over the years going back to 1939! This collection is by no means complete but we hope to add more files as they become available to us. If you have an … Continue reading →
When sophomore Arch Doty moved into room 23 of Clark Hall in September, 1939, he brought with him a radio transmitter he had built at home the previous summer. Using a turntable, 78 rpm records, a microphone, the transmitter, and an antenna wire hanging out of Arch’s window, student-run radio at Wesleyan hit the airwaves.
It was a modest start. The entire audience that tuned into the evening AM-band broadcasts was limited to Clark residents—the weak signal reached no farther than several hundred feet beyond the antenna. But the broadcasts proved to be very popular, and within weeks, students in other residences wanted to be able to tune in.
Seventy-five years later, WESU-FM reaches a potential audience of over one million listeners, and can be heard as far as Springfield, Massachusetts; Long Island, New York; Waterbury; and Norwich.
“WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio” takes an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States. Throughout WESU’s history, there have been two constants: first, without interruption, Wesleyan students have operated the station; and second, broadcasts have been focused on new, under-represented, or non-commercial programming aimed at students and the larger community.
Most of the items in the exhibition are from the collections of Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library. University Archivist Leith Johnson is curator of the show, with research assistance provided by Ian McCarthy. Special thanks to WESU General Manager Ben Michael for advice and loans of items from WESU’s collection.
The show is on view in the exhibition area near Special Collections & Archives, 1st floor Olin Library, Wesleyan University.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of our Doo Wop Extravaganza!The Super Girls Group rocked the house, showing that the 70+ year old Divas still had their moves and amazing voices! Jay Siegel’s Tokens entertained the crowd with their classic tunes, funny stories, and some great renditions and tributes to the music of yesteryear!
(Howard Williams, pictured on left)On this episode of Welcome Back,Howard Williams of Weselyan’s class of 1948 talks about his experience with WES AM, the predecessor to WESU.
He talks about inheriting the station by chance, developing student interest and a management structure, popular programming of the day, and a surprising relationship to broadcast pioneer and CT native Franklin Malcolm Doolittle. And you won’t want to miss his epilogue, which I think is particularly poignant and moving.
There’s even a bonus track wherein Howard shares some hilarious insight on Middletown origins of “Russia’s inferiority complex with the US.”
During April, C.C. Arshagra, our “Spoken Mind Poet” and host of “The I Do Not Know Show”, is curating our “75 years of….” spotlighting poetry, spoken word, and lyrically dense music.
Check out the most recent episode:
Last week’s episode:
By exploring monthly themes, “75 years of…” provides a free-form cross section of programing genres that would likely have been absent fro the airwaves for the past 75 years without stations like WESU. Currently, the program broadcasts each Wednesday at 11pm.
The “I Do not Know Show” broadcasts live on Saturday nights / Sunday at 1:30am. In the mean time you can find recent show archives and more by clicking here.