Lesson 2. Identity, Mission, History

History of PSU Student Radio (WPSC, WDFM, WPSU, WKPS)

WPSC – Penn State’s first campus radio station

  • Evolved from 8XE and experimental shortwave prior to 1912
  • Senior Gift of the Class of 1912

WDFM 91.5fm

  • 1951 Senior Class Gift – On the air Dec. 6, 1953
  • Primary Goal: Provide a learning environment for students, Secondary: Serve the community with programming
  • Staff Advisor served as Station Manager

WPSU 91.5fm

  • Prior to 1985, the call letters of an FM station at PSU Wilkes-Barre
  • WDFM becomes WPSU, and faculty/academic involvement increases
  • Syndicated NPR programming increases through the late 80’s and early ’90s
  • By 1992, WPSU has become an NPR affiliate and is no longer a student radio station

WKPS – a.k.a. The LION 90.7fm: Penn State’s TRUE Student Radio Station

  • Small group of students, led by Jeff Ecker, calls on PSU to build a new student station
  • 1995: WKPS goes on the air Monday Oct. 30th.
  • Chartered as a registered undergraduate student organization, to avoid WDFM’s fate
  • WKPS reverses the goals of WDFM:
    • Primary: Serve the Penn State/State College Community with the on-air product
    • Secondary: Provide a learning environment for students pursuing radio careers
    • Student aspect upheld, but professional oversight of operation left unsupported in post- DFM/WPSU era. (WPSU moves out of James in May 1997)
  • 1999: The station begins broadcasting Penn State football
  • 2000-01: WKPS re-images itself as The LION 90.7fm
    • UPAC cuts annual station funding by 80%
    • GM Mike Walsh secures funding support from Student Affairs
    • VP Student Affairs Bill Asbury agrees to fund the station for 5 years
  • 2001-02: The LION begins webcasting
    • The LION/Student Affairs attempt a partnership with the College of Comm for professional oversight of operation and management
    • The attempted relationship with the College of Comm deteriorates (rapidly) Jeff Brown, paid advisor, hired to advance the College’s curricular agenda College wires its news studio into The LION’s, without warning/permission Professors illegally storm the station’s studio a.k.a. “The LION Riot”
  • 2002-03: The LION is ordered out of the James Building by August ‘03
    • HUB Director Dr. Stan Latta authorizes the station’s move to the HUB
  • Oct. 1, 2003: The LION goes live from its new HUB Studio.
  • 2004-05: New VP of Student Affairs Vicky Triponey cuts all funding for The LION
    • Triponey verbally cites the admin-critical Radio Free Penn State as the cause, but subsequently denies publicly that any content was the reason.
  • 2006: August: the Penn State Student Radio Alumni Interest Group renews the FCC License through Penn State for The LION 90.7fm.
  • 2005-07: The financial and operational future of The LION: Policy proposals/Fee boards – no luck; but Triponey resigns.

What is the primary mission and philosophy of The LION 90.7fm?

As per FCC licensure, and as per our own organizational constitution, we are to serve the Public Need, Necessity, and Interest. It is therefore our primary mission to serve the general public within our listening broadcast radius.

The undergraduate students of Penn State residing anywhere within that radius are our chosen target demographic, but not our only audience. Our programming is primarily, but not exclusively aimed at these students.

Serving as a learning outlet for students and participants to self-actualize and develop, and learn about the many aspects of broadcasting is an inseparable but secondary mission. The station’s operation is categorized as an extra-curricular activity within the PSU department of Student Affairs, and is not limited to the solely curricular or co-curricular aims of an academic unit, such as the College of Communications.

As such, The LION is open to students of ALL majors and studies. Many non Communications majors have come through the station and found a love and discovered an aptitude for some aspect of broadcasting. Many Comm and non Comm students have used what they had learned here with the hands-on experience of radio and furthered their skills and talents. They not only performed great programming and gained valuable experience while here, but have also gone on to successfully work in the broadcast industry.

However, in order for each individual, and thereby the team as a whole, to excel and strive to perform their very best, they must understand that their contribution is one of public service, before it is of self- service, let alone of personal amusement. To be federally licensed to broadcast means that it is a privilege, and not a right to be on the air or to be involved. Each participant must live up to a higher responsibility, than as with most other extracurricular activities. This will become apparent throughout the training process.

The LION is more than some “resource” available to students while here at Penn State, such as the Rec & Fitness facilities, the billiards room, a computer lab, a counselor’s office, or an audio lab in the school of communications. It is to be thought of as an opportunity and an honor, by which you and your fellow students can make a positive difference in the local and university community. You thereby leave something behind, and pave the way for the betterment of future students. This means, in any given year, The Lion will only be what you make it. So make it something to be desired – give it meaning!

We need people who are willing to make a commitment – to take on the mantle of responsibility and follow through. Just as those students who started the first student radio station as a senior class gift, try to build upon what you find and leave it better off than how you found it. As you’ll see in training, becoming good at what you do so as to developing listenership, requires consistency and practice. That demands commitment!

Are you ready for the challenge?

The LION 90.7fm Website – www.theLION.fm

LION 90.7fm Wikipedia Article – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WKPS