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Audio Radiance
Written July 26, 2002


"Audio Radiance for our Radio Audience" was the unofficial slogan of WOBC, the 10-watt radio station at Oberlin College.  It was also the title of an article in the May 1967 edition of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, written by station directors Richard Lasko '67 and Ted Gest '68.

You may have missed that article, so here are some highlights (printed in crimson below).  This gives me a chance to show you some of the pictures and to add my comments.

Other photos come from the 1967 and 1968 editions of Hi-O-Hi, the college yearbook.  For example, this photo.  Threading up one of the Ampex tape decks is pop music director Dave Webster '69, while the telephone receiver is apparently being used by someone else in the busy control room.

The Alumni Magazine article began:

At one time or another, nearly every Oberlin student comes in contact with WOBC, now the largest extra-curricular organization on campus.

A constantly increasing staff and excellent facilities in Wilder Hall have made it possible for us to expand our broadcasting to over 100 hours each week, one of the highest figures in the nation for college stations.  Listener response is difficult to measure, although reactions received have been generally enthusiastic.

Two disk jockeys in Studio B:  yours truly (top) and Dave Webster (bottom).

The control panel, which we called "cette" (short for consolette), was custom-built by the station's engineers.  It had only three input channels, with a round black "pot" to control the volume of each.

Two banks of lighted pushbuttons between the left two pots selected turntables or other sources.  The third pot was for the microphone; Dave is turning it down with his right hand while his left hand fades up the music.


In charge of the equipment in 1967 were the two engineers shown below.  Standing is Walt Jones '67.  Seated is Tom Ammons '68, who is now an engineer for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh.

Programming is evenly divided between classical and popular music — including the "Hot 100," folk and jazz.  We have virtually limitless opportunities for the use of local talent.

These folk musicians occasionally performed live in our Studio A.

Above:  Jim Pratt '70 and John
Heckenlively '68 in the outer office.

WOBC is proud of the fact that it is one of the only radio stations in the country which is operated completely by students.

Oberlin does not offer academic courses in radio.  Yet, a few years' experience as a WOBC staff member can provide a good education in the techniques of program production, announcing, and the maintenance of equipment.

Experience also is a valuable teaching device in the art of working with others of vastly different personalities.

In 1968, Oberlin College held a mock Republican National Convention at its field house.  WOBC broadcast the proceedings live, and as seen in the picture below, a WOBC personality ended up on the podium:  Ken Braiterman '69.  He was the man behind our version of "Saturday Night Live," a Friday-night satirical hour called "Backgammon 101."  (The gentleman in the background is the honorary chairman of the convention, future president Gerald Ford.)

WOBC's greatest claim to uniqueness among college radio stations is a daily news feature, "Oberlin Digest," Oberlin's only daily news service.  Each weekday evening the Digest staff presents a special 30-minute program of interest to the Oberlin community.

For the magazine article's photographer, a group of us sat in Studio A and pretended to be conducting an "Oberlin Digest" panel discussion.  In the foreground is engineer Dick Stump '68.  At the table left to right are Paul Sturm '68, Tom Clark '69, myself, and Ted Gest.  See also this photo and these photos and these photos.

More staged pictures in studio A.  Above, I'm at the piano.  Randy Bongarten '71 is putting on the headphones, and Marc Krass '70 is on the right.

Below, classical music director Mike Barone '68 is on the left, with Bruce Robinson '68 and Dick Lasko.  Helpful Hiram is on the table.

In the 1965 Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Fred Leutner '65 wrote that "every four years a completely new staff rewrites policies which were thought unchangeable one student generation earlier."

The only real trend we can cite with any certainty is that WOBC is constantly changing.  Each new staff member and each new executive board works toward making WOBC a bigger and better "Radio Voice of Oberlin College."




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