It could be said that WVUD was born under a good sign— the Age of Aquarius, that is. The year was 1968, and as UD restlessly surfed the counterculture wave, a progressive-leaning administrator encouraged several students to start a student radio station.
At first, it would go by the call letters WHEN, and while its reach was initially limited to students’ dorm rooms via thin phone lines and a puny AM signal, its ambitions seemed robust as the first words soared through the air: “When is now. And you ain’t heard nothing yet.”
The first song? “Revolution,” naturally. The plan? Spin records, chill out and see where it all goes.
“None of us had any experience. None of us knew what we were doing. Every day was an adventure. It was a blast,” says Greer Firestone, AS69, one of the station’s founding members. Tumultuous times and cultural touchpoints guided its evolution: Many students would first hear then-marginalized rock gods on 10-watt WHEN - Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin. Administrators probably didn’t listen much but were sure to watch with a wary eye.
“The student government then was very confrontational, very radical,” remembers early member Pete Simon, AS77. “The university president didn’t want to have anything to do with a station run by radicals against the Vietnam War.”
Other struggles would challenge the station. The fight to move up to an FM signal at 91.3 was fought by the state of New Jersey, who wanted it as their own. The resignation of both faculty advisers in protest of paltry funding also would be overcome. Each year seemed to bring new promise, and new hurdles: issues with decaying equipment, or students’ relations with the volunteers.
Through it all, and with the help of many committed members, the station prevailed and solidified in spirit. And through to today, it all remains focused primarily on the people who really “own” this piece of UD identity: the students.
“It is their station. But they understand the responsibility and the history,” says Steve Kramarck, who helps manage the station as associate director of University Student Centers. “It’s like a community down here, really.”