WPRK is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The station was founded in 1952 by a donor who believed a radio station would be valuable to the college. Since its founding, WPRK has transformed into a diverse station where various music and shows are aired.
“Part of what perhaps sets it apart is the way that it’s evolved over time,” said Director of Student Media Greg Golden.
WPRK faced a gradual transformation to a station entirely operated by students—a shift in power that was not complete until the 1990s. During this period in between, students were allowed to DJ but were required to play the music that was given to them. Eventually, students could play their music in the evenings, subsequently, the station became student-run.
“In the ‘90s, it definitely transformed to a variety of genres,” said Madison Bailey (‘24), a student who has worked with the station for two years. “Especially more indie and alternative and rock kind of genres of music were incorporated in the 1990s.”
Since then, WPRK has continued to explore new markets. Last year, they launched their first-ever mobile app to increase their accessibility for students.
In addition to its wide array of music, the station’s broadcast shows are run by students. Some of today’s shows include “Music from the Movies,” “Talk of the Town,” “Rollins Around Town,” “Tea Time with Brendan and Maddie,” “Punk Rock in Your PJs,” “Classic Rock Breakfast Club,” and “Out Loud Orlando.”
“What’s exciting now is that [aired content] can really change from year to year, semester to semester, week to week, because we’re always finding new ways to get new voices on the air,” said Golden.
One way the station accomplishes this is through an English course called “Behind the Music.” which requires students to DJ once during the semester. In addition, the station airs shows such as “Music of India” and “Rock en Español” which highlight music in other languages.
WPRK showcases local artists through events, such as Fox Fest and other concerts. They also interview bands and have them perform in the studio.
“Having a radio station and having students trained in audio production and those sorts of things aren’t necessarily meant to prepare students for careers in those areas, but instead we do see students go into a lot of diverse fields where learning communication skills and troubleshooting skills have benefited them,” said Golden.