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Free Content From wireless experiments to streaming: The secret history and changing role of college radio at Haverford College 1923–2014

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The 1920s were boom years for college radio, with at least 90 college radio stations in the United States by January 1924. This period was also the heyday for radio at Haverford College, a small, all-male Quaker College near Philadelphia. Its first radio station, WABQ, was launched by students in 1923. In the early years of the station, students embarked on a series of ambitious projects, including international wireless experiments. WABQ was sold to a commercial radio group and in its wake other stations (WHAV and WHRC) formed at Haverford. In the 1940s the station was part of one of the first intercollegiate radio networks. By the 1980s WHRC was a campus-only AM carrier-current station. As technology evolved WHRC abandoned carrier-current for Internet-only broadcasting and by 2009 even this netcast faded away. Following some experiments with transforming the station into a podcast-only DJ club in 2009–2010, WHRC was again resurrected as a streaming radio station in 2012. This article covers the more than 90-year history of radio at Haverford College from the 1920s to the present. It draws from historical documents and interviews with WHAV and WHRC participants from the 1940s through 2014. The story of Haverford College radio adds another voice to the currently very limited literature documenting both the very early history of college radio and the evolution of college radio in general.
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Keywords: alternative media; college radio; non-commercial radio; radio history; student radio; university radio

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent researcher

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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