Thomas Doorley’s WDFM memories

Thomas Doorley shares his WDFM memories:

As a freshman and sophomore in 1962-64 I was a DJ, newscaster, sportscaster, and generally jack-of-most trades at WDFM. I enjoyed it. My music was jazz, rock and folk.

I arrived on campus as an engineering major but with a career in broadcasting as a preferred choice. In high school I was the sportscaster for the morning announcement broadcasts. I had a TV (black and while) in my room at home and I’d turn off the sound and call the play X play for football and baseball games. Loved it! Once at Penn State I jumped at the chance to join WDFM. Since we had to be our own ‘control room” I got my FCC engineers’ license and I was good to go.

WDFM seemed very professional to me. Having access to an extensive library of albums was a surprise and a thrill. What a delight, to prowl through those albums! My first gig was as a DJ. I then I picked up newscasting and did time as Penn State’s baseball one man team. Live from Beaver Field! The big deal about doing the evening news was that the 9PM news was simulcast on the AM station, WMAJ. Now that was big time, reaching all of Centre County!

(My sister was a Penn State grad working in New York City in advertising, and she created a band for me should I continue on as a newscaster. Rather than being simply Tom Doorley, she suggested the more elegant…”Tonight from New York the nightly news with T. Lawerence Doorley!” It sounded good to me.)

I felt honored to have the trust of the leaders of WDFM to handle the entire production on my own. The only sharp comment I ever got was to “tone down” some of my music during drive time. The preferred jazz at the time was Sinatra, not the more up-tempo or “out there” folks like Miles Davis. They were probably right. But I still managed to slip a bit of Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jamal into the mix. In retrospect this was a leadership experience that has helped shape my life and career.

After two full and exciting years at WDFM I was offered the role as night manager. I pondered it and realized that the time it would take away for my studies and my income-generating activity was just too much. I came to the realization that I was not likely to pursue broadcasting as my career. And, while that has turned out to be true, I have continued to keep my hand in the skills I developed at WDFM. I’ve appeared on radio and TV talking about my books and delivering insights about strategy and governance. Because of WDFM I am confident. I know what’s going on and how to handle the camera and microphone.

Thank you, WDFM.