Notes from underground
On the air for 60 years and still going strong, WPRK is one of American college radio's oldest stations. Despite an FCC hiccup last month, it looks like the station will continue to buck the trend
Published: April 5, 2012
Following some obligatory paperwork, WPRK came back to life about a week after disappearing, picking up its ragtag sonic eccentricities like nothing ever happened. But so much has happened in that basement since the station went live 60 years ago. Christened on-air by a pomp-filled speech from Dwight Eisenhower himself, WPRK has evolved from a daytime extension of broadcast education to a 24-hour cultural resource. According to Sprinkel, after a few experiments to work out the kinks, the station plans to significantly expand its remote live broadcasts of local music and community events.
“Right now we're working on broadcasting an event from the Timucua White House [Saturday, April 8's Endangered Blood show],” Sprinkel says. “We're also hoping to broadcast not just music, but lectures or stuff like that,” like Rollins' Winter Park Institute series. “When we have somebody like Jane Goodall or Billy Collins speaking, we'd like to share that with people who can't be at the event.”
Today, even in light of an increasingly diversified broadcast industry – and that's not even including the proliferation of shuffling iPods – the station remains relevant, messy and integral to how we hear our region and how we live our lives.
“In the wake of all mass media basically dying in the face of the Internet, I think it's interesting, commendable and enjoyable that such things as college radio do still exist,” says WPRK community DJ Tony Maus (aka Phantom Third Channel), “that these quaint media continue to stick around.”
In their own words
WPRK from those who lived it
WPRK general manager and advisor from the summer of 2001 to the summer of 2007
“I always saw my main role as helping develop the leadership skills of the students who were making all the same sorts of day-to-day choices and decisions. WPRK provides a tremendous hand-on learning opportunity for the students.”
Rollins College graduate and WPRK station director, 2000
“By the end of the summer in 2000 when news hit about the possible WMFE takeover, students and community members of the station banded together to try to bring the merge to a halt.”
Student DJ and music director, 1993; live event editor at British music magThe Wire
“I started DJ'ing at WPRK when I was still in high school, on the graveyard shift. In fact, the radio station was one of the reasons I chose to go to Rollins.
“One thing I've noticed is every American I meet who has been working with music for a significant period – and I've met quite a few – spent quality time with college radio, no matter where they're from. Most often, like me, they were DJs and volunteers for their station.”