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
Dec. 10, 1952: WPRK begins broadcasting at 88.1 MHz with 10 watts of power. The first voice heard is President-Elect Dwight D. Eisenhower
Mid-1950s:WPRK broadcasts for about five hours each evening.
1959: WPRK is on the air from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily, run entirely by students under the direction of Dr. Charles Rogers, the head of the college's communication department.
Oct. 19, 1962:The Winter Park Star reports that WPRK has “more listeners per watt than any other radio station in Florida.”
Feb. 24, 1989: The Orlando Sentinel reports that WPRK has been off the air for two days while the station addresses “a computer part in WPRK's transmitter.”
June 9, 1989: The Sentinelreports that retired veteran broadcaster Gordon Fraser “spends most of his days in WPRK's studios at Rollins,” as the station's general manager.
March 2, 1992: WPRK rejoices as the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a lower court ruling, essentially ending a ban on “indecent” material on the air between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and creating the station's infamous “Safe Harbor” programming each night.
Summer 2000: WMFE-FM 90.7 offers to take over the operations of WPRK in a proposed partnership, essentially turning 91.5 FM into a sister frequency, allowing student programmings overnight and on weekends. Rollins' student affairs dean, Steve Neilson, begins to solicit student feedback.
Feb. 1, 2001: Rollins College announces its decision to retain student control of WPRK.
Jan. 17-21, 2005: WPRK's first marathon broadcast breaks a Guinness World Record, with DJ Dave Plotkin remaining on-air for 110 consecutive hours. The event raises more than $20,000 to make station improvements and launch WPRK's Internet stream. The record is soon re-broken by a Scottish DJ.
Summer 2007: WPRK general manager and student favorite Dan Seeger leaves Rollins to accept a position at another college. Seeger was the last dedicated general manager of the station (GMs since have split their time between WPRK and other campus advisory roles).