8:58 a.m., March 11, 2009----Last fall, radio station WVUD, “the voice of the University of Delaware,” celebrated 40 years of bringing listeners a wide variety of music, sports, news and special programming.
As the listener-supported station, located at 91.3 FM on the dial and available online, kicks off Radiothon 2009 from March 12-22, it hopes to raise $1,000 for each year of existence for a total goal of $40,000.
Contributions can be made online at this Web page or by calling (302) 831-2701. Pledges are used to help the station keep current with changing broadcasting technology requirements.
Premiums for donors, which can be found online, include T-shirts, beach towels, mugs and water bottles.
Serving the UD community and beyond
From its beginnings as WHEN, 10-watt closed-campus system in East Hall in 1968, to an area radio icon with a 1,000-watt signal, WVUD has earned its title as the “voice of the University of Delaware” through long service to the campus community.
Located in the Perkins Student Center, and transmitting from atop the Christiana East residence hall, the student-run radio station is managed by Stephen Kramarck, a UD alumnus and assistant director of student centers.
“I'm an undergraduate who started on the air the first week I was at school in the fall of 1989,” Kramarck said. “I did the overnight shows, then Java Time and sports programs.”
Kramarck said that following in the footsteps of longtime station manager Charles “Chuck” Tarver is something he has wanted to do since graduating in 1993 with a degree in communications.
“I have so much respect for this school and this radio station,” Kramarck said. “This really is a dream job for me.”
With students doing the scheduling and a good deal of the on-air broadcasting, Kramarck said his role is that of an adviser who deals with the day-to-day operations and concerns of students and community members, and with the help of chief engineer Dave Mackenzie to provide needed technical support.
“I'm a Blue Hen, and this is home to me,” Kramarck said. “We are still providing something that students can't get anywhere else, and we enjoy helping them reach their goals.”
Natalie Nasatka, a senior wildlife conservation major from Newark, helps produce program logs for DJs, as well as public service announcements, underwriting and working on all aspects of Radiothon promotions and record keeping.
“I recently began co-hosting a show with Lindsey Woods, called The Basement, from 3-5 p.m.,” Nasatka said. “It's a lot of fun to do and the listeners expect something different from each show.”
Program director Mike Nigro, a junior communications major from Hockessin who is in the UD Honors Program, said that as soon as he arrived on campus he knew that he wanted to be involved in radio work.
“All of the things that I like, including music, tech stuff and friends come together in this place,” Nigro said. “I like everything about it, and am looking at a career in radio or television.”
General manager Scott Ohlmacher, a senior mathematics/economics major from Frederick, Md., also in the Honors Program and an Honors Degree with Distinction candidate, is a self-described music fan whose favorite album is Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.
“I was looking for something to do during my freshman year,” Ohlmacher said. “At the station I get to hear a lot of music, and we have such a wide array of people who work here. It's been a really great leadership experience.”
Adam Moskovitz, a senior economics/business major from West Chester, Pa., in the UD Honors Program, also was looking for something to do at the end of his sophomore year, and has enjoyed being involved in all aspects of the station's operations.
“We needed a business manager, and it just worked out for me,” Moskovitz said. “I like the experience, and it's really about the music. There is more music in the WVUD library than I'll ever be able to listen to.”
While serving and giving experience to students is the station's top priority, WVUD also benefits from on and off air contributions from members of the general community, including Larry Carr, host of the Friday version of Fine Tuning from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
“WVUD is for the students and community members, and it gives students an opportunity to build future careers,” said Carr, who received undergraduate degrees from UD in psychology (1979) and criminal justice (1987). “This station affords people that opportunity and I would encourage students to come down and become staff members.”
George Stewart, host of Crazy College, heard each Sunday from 6-7 p.m., said he has been involved with the program since 1984.
Stewart calls Crazy College a unique musical amalgam of all things “odd, silly or forgotten that, unfortunately in this overly formatted time, is not likely to be heard anywhere.”
“Crazy College is more than just a venue for comedy recordings, though it does feature healthy doses of that,” Stewart said. “Anything outré may find a home here, from mechanical orchestras to glass harmonicas, from the maudlin musings of Jack Webb, to the greats, near-greats and ingrates of the British music hall, as well as TV theme songs and monologists of the 1950s and 1960s.”
Suzi Wollenberg, host of the Tuesday Roots program, from 9-11 a.m., started working at the station in 1977,when a friend said the station was looking for a folk music DJ.
“I had a long-standing affection for folk music, had done some radio in college and could fit a show into my work schedule, so I signed on to do Roots,” Wollenberg said. “WVUD only broadcast at 10 watts back then, but still it was a thrill to be on the air in Newark, Del.”
Wollenberg met and married her husband John Lupton while both worked as DJs for WVUD. Lupton is co-host, with George Mercer, of Rural Free Delivery, which is broadcast on Saturdays from noon-2 p.m.
“We had met through other music organizations,” Wollenberg said, “But this was the connection that clinched it,”
Although the station is a nonprofit organization serving the community, Wollenberg said WVUD goes way beyond the norm both in terms of the music and information it presents each day.
“The students are the engine of the station, and they definitely keep things running,” Wollenberg said. “They have done a remarkable job throughout the years and their vitality is an inspiration as well, reminding us long-time DJs why we started doing this in the first place.”
Michael Foster, a music resources supervisor in the UD Department of Music, began working at WVUD in 1980, when he went to the station to see if they had any openings in classic music or jazz programming.
Foster credits professional station mangers Cate Kowan, Chuck Tarver and Steve Kramarck, noting that “all three of them haven give a great deal of energy and time to make sure the station is a collegial community of people of all ages.”
When the station started 40 years ago, Foster said, it was as an alternative station where people offered things, mostly music, that they loved, things that were not heard anywhere else.
“This has included poetry, radio drama, comedy, history, a dedication to the arts scene, and, of course, music,” Foster said. “The station has adhered to this way of operating, but still evolved to include new ways of doing old things, and to include sports.”
Foster, who is the host of Fine Tuning on Mondays and Thursdays, said that thanks to the many individuals who have worked at the station for four decades, WVUD remains one of the few remaining college alternative, free-form radio stations in existence.
“For all of the thousands of people who have been involved, the station has remained surprisingly true to its beginnings of 40 years ago,” Foster said. “I cherish the friendships and relationships I have had with members of the staff over the last 30 years.”
Don't forget, Radiothon is from March 12-22. Contributions can be made online or by calling (302) 831-2701.
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by J Stewart