Lauren Deutsch shares WDFM memories

I was on staff at WDFM probably beginning about 1967 for at least two years, ending with my graduation in 1969 with a degree in journalism. I was assistant news director, had a live interview show in the arts and also DJ’d a music program focused on Broadway. I would promote on campus events, such as concert by Ravi Shanker whom I also interviewed after the concert and we ran the tape during the show.)

The only anecdote I can remember is showing up at 4 PM on a weekday to write a newscast and finding that the news had been stolen, ripped-off the wire machine. It happened a number of times. The only thing that was really left where the agriculture (e.g. pork belly reports). That of course is of interest to Penn Staters. 

In those days also the license for the station was limited to playing little rock music, which was the revenue-producing genre of the commercial station in town. WDFM DJs were not allowed to program any rock (in 1965-69!) as a condition of its relationship with the fm station in town. So we played classical, jazz, show tunes and a lot of strange recordings (Last Blast of the Blasted Buggler, for one. The only other competition was a station restricted to West Halls, a dorm that was for men and primarily had engineering students. 

In those days also we had squeaky wooden chairs that made in an enormous amount of noise rolling back-and-forth near the microphones.

I do also remember hearing for the first time someone described as “black.” I called the station immediately and spoke to the announcer with concern. I was informed that there had been received a notice saying that this was an appropriate way to describe a group of students or a single individual. 

We used to sell little transistor radios to raise money for the station. The reality was that not a lot of people had FM radios.

I still have a “protest” button/pin inscribed with the phrase, “we dig your thing.”

These were tumultuous times, and somewhere between Vietnam draft, the slowly eroding of curfews in the women’s dorms, proliferation of recreational drugs (not my scene, but I was the only person with a real banana at the banana power rally), and protests, I managed to get a very wonderful education that I still lean on.

I’m a great public radio fan and have worked for 10 years for KCRW 89.9fm Santa Monica CA in a variety of jobs (not DJ or on air much) and for American Public Media / Marketplace Productions in Los Angeles. I’m also on the Community Advisory Board of KCET TV (Los Angeles) public TV. I’ve been a volunteer at Pacifica stations in New York City and LA.

—Lauren W. Deutsch, Producer/Director
Pacific Rim Arts