WRCR/Rockford College Radio -- 1980s History
This history of WRCR was compiled from Rockford College newspaper articles, primarily the Collegian; recollections of students involved with WRCR, and messages posted on the WRCR list serve. This history was compiled by Ross Hunter '71and edited by Cece Forrester '72. Click a link above to visit other decades. In reviewing the old newspaper clippings there are two themes that surfaced every couple of years from the beginning of WRCR to its end in 1994: the hum caused by carrier current broadcasting and the hope of FM broadcasting. Student engineers over the years made great strides in overcoming the hum, but that FM dream was never realized.
Corrections and additions are welcome. Please write to the webmaster.
A complete rewiring of the radio station was undertaken by co-op students from Sundstrand. Staffers Bill Moreland, Warren Boykin and John Ruud revived the transmitters in the Kent and Cummings complexes. Funds for the work at the station came from the "Parents Committee" headed by Webb Kerns which raised $5,000 to re-equip WRCR. The station was on the air from 8am til midnight daily.
In the fall of 1981 equipment problems forced WRCR off the air for about two weeks. Transmitters in Kent and McGaw were not functioning. A newspaper article also noted a conflict between the staff and the station's adviser, Ralph Cohen. The staff wanted to replace the ailing transmitters, but the station adviser wanted to repair them. The cost of repair was said to be about two-thirds the cost of replacing them. The Exec Board attempted to raise the funds from college sources and the adviser objected saying the board had "acted outside of their jurisdiction". In the end the Executive Board "fired" the adviser and he demanded the station keys be turned over to him. Cohen maintained had had resigned as adviser. Ray Baker became the radio station advisor and continued through the end of WRCR in 1994. The station resumed broadcasting on October 6, 1981.
Fallout from the dispute resulted in an audit of WRCR financial records. A December 1981 newspaper article found no illegalities in the handling of funds. In an effort to raise funds to purchase new transmitters the radio station began a fund raising campaign in conjunction with McDonald's. In the fall of 1982 the station asked Student Government for a $400 increase in its allotment so it could purchase three new transmitters.
By February of 1983 the Chief Engineer and Program Director resigned, citing a differing vision on how the station should operate. General Manager Linda Davison was able to find qualified replacements in Paul Watson and Fred Brodsky.
In November of 1983 a very upbeat article in the Tribune noted a new constitution for WRCR and once again mentioned the possibility of an FM station. The first mention of the station moving out of lower Burpee was made in this article. Possible new locations were Johnson Center or Lang Health Center. A move to Johnson would cut the station's space by two thirds. The article noted a wave of interest in the radio station and lots of new shows.
February of 1984 saw a broadcast day Monday through Friday from 4pm to midnight. In the Fall of 1984 renovations to Burpee Center had WRCR actively looking for a new home along with Student Government, Recensio and the Regent Tribune. The station was supposed to move to Lang Center in the summer of 1984, but construction delays on campus kept it in Burpee until January of 1985, when it finally moved. The October article quoted GM Brian Carbone who said WRCR might not get on the air during the first semester of 1984. The station promoted and hosted dances during first semester in an effort to keep interest alive. The newspaper and yearbook were hard pressed to keep functioning in temporary quarters.
At the end of the 1984-85 years an editorial in the newspaper noted it had been a tough year for the radio station. It was not able to begin broadcasting until October 16, 1984. The editorial again mentioned the possibility of an FM station.
A Regent Tribune article on August 23, 1987 said the station was about ready to begin broadcasting for the new academic year. General Manager Mike Adamany said the station planned to be very active in fund raising, with the goal of converting to FM. He cited a cost of about $20,000. The station planned to sponsor a "record convention" on October 18 as the first of many fund raisers.
Fall 1989 was cited as a time of rebuilding by General Manager Freddie Pilipuf. Transmitters in Johnson Center and McGaw Hall were not working. At this time Webb Kerns was again asked to assist WRCR. He was approached by freshmen John Quinn and David Wilson who wanted to get WRCR functioning again. They formed the Vernon R. Nolte Memorial Fund to honor the recently deceased founder and president of WROK/WZOK in Rockford. Nolte had helped when WRCR was started in 1963 and over the years employed many WRCR staffers at his radio stations as well as helped with equipment for WRCR. Over $4,000 was raised and Kerns contributed some used equipment from his advertising agency.
WRCR purchased new transmitters and two CD players. Kerns also made contacts with the cable TV system in Rockford to investigate the possibility of WRCR broadcasting on cable. Some of the funds raised were used to bring Richard Crompton of Low Power Broadcast to the campus in January of 1990. Crompton's company built AM carrier current transmitters used by college radio stations across the country. WRCR had used his equipment almost from its beginning. Crompton undertook a comprehensive study of the college campus and the radio station facilities and equipment with the objective of determining the equipment requirements, studio requirements and to demonstrate state of the art transmission techniques. His nine page report is found in the "printed items: downloads" page of the WRCR web site.
As far as the development of the logo goes, here are the details the best I can remember:
I served as Business Manager of the station for a year (around 1987 or 1988). During that time, the WRCR executive committee decided it was time for a new
As the entries were rolling in, none struck a chord with the radio station president. Knowing that there wasn't a clear winner, I went back to my dorm room and drew up the Statue of Liberty logo. If memory serves me right, I was inspired by a concert t-shirt I had at the time of the band the "Violent Femmes". The t-shirt had a picture of the Statue of Liberty in the background and that's where the "musical liberty" idea came from.
To make a long story short, I took the drawing of the logo to the station president. He liked it and thought that the others would like it, but was concerned that we couldn't accept a logo submitted by a member of the committee (let alone give prize money to a committee member). So (this is the part of the story that I'm probably not so proud of), we submitted the logo under the name of another student. When the logo was selected, a check was written to the fake logo designer (who was a friend of mine) and we split the winnings. Basically, I took most of it and gave my buddy a "service fee" for his effort.
One last thing, the lettering in the logo wasn't mine -- just the Statue of Liberty with guitar logo and "musical liberty" slogan. I'm not sure who crafted the WRCR font that appears in some of the pictures.
Hopefully this story doesn't violate the "Honor Code" in some way that is now going to come back to haunt me. Though I have to admit, it feels good to finally come clean and get this off my chest. Now maybe I'll be able to sleep at night.
Noel Nickel '88