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.