Greg Lachs recently shared his memories from Penn State and WDFM in the late 1970s:
Back in the summer of ’79 and newly licensed, I did a lot of “fill in” shifts at WDFM. It was a lot of fun and I got to know some great people.
On Sunday nights, we’d sign off with “Just Plain Folk,” which I recall was a three hour folk music show that had a good audience.
One Sunday, I had the shift just before “Just Plain Folk” and Tom Looney, who was scheduled to take that show, was not there. So, I was the only one around with a license (sounds a bit too dramatic, doesn’t it?) And I was asked to do the show.
At 20, I knew virtually nothing about folk music beyond Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary. Willing to “fill in,” but completely unsure of what to play. About 20 minutes before the show, a young couple stopped by (around my age, and I was definitely young at 20.) They were fans of the show, and regularly stopped by to make suggestions. That night, they made all the suggestions—which made the show work.
I hadn’t planned on being on the air for two straight shifts, though. On just about every break, I said I was filling in for the “soon to be late” Tom Looney.
After my shift was over, I was shutting everything down. There was a small corkboard on the outside door to the studio. I found a pink message slip that stated Tom had called a day earlier and couldn’t make the show—some sort of car problem, I think. It looked like someone had just written down the information on the slip and just used a thumb tack to post it onto the corkboard. Perhaps, in the hopes that someone in authority would just happen by and see the note and get someone to cover the show. That apparently didn’t happen.
While I wouldn’t trade that first summer on the air for anything, I am quite glad that someone invented answering machines and voicemail.