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Happy 50th Birthday WVUD
Happy 50th Birthday WVUD
Published by Swampy Meadows
06-13-2014
Happy 50th Birthday WVUD

BEVERLY HILLS (MI) -- Way back in 1964, the University of Dayton quietly acquired the broadcast license to Kettering radio station WKET, 99.9 on the FM dial from Speidel Broadcasting. The term “acquired” should be applied loosely to the transaction, because while UD “paid” Speidel $25,000, they turned around and “donated” a like amount to the University. The WKET call letters eventually were changed to WVUD and 50 years later a bunch of us young folks who had worked at the station under UD’s ownership gathered during the recent Reunion Weekend to swap war stories and marvel at how old and gray (or bald) we had gotten...all except for Chris “Foxy” Brown, that is.

I told the tale of WVUD in this space previously about 8 years ago, so rather than repeating myself, you can click here for the backstory:

http://www.flyersports.com/cgi/coran...AkAkAEWpqVMrJp

We have had several mini-WVUD reunions over the past few decades, all organized by former FM 100 Music Director, DJ and Dayton native Dan Covey, but they were always lightly attended. This year’s soiree was the beneficiary of some great publicity, courtesy of this in-depth profile of “The Radio Station” in the University of Dayton Magazine penned by writer CC Hutten:

http://udquickly.udayton.edu/udmagaz...ck-revolution/

The genesis of CC’s story was a chance encounter she had at last year’s Reunion Weekend with former VUDers Geoff Vargo and Steve Wendell. Since she is in the class of 2015, CC had never heard about the commercially licensed radio station that was owned by UD, but featured disc jockeys who were students and decided to do some research on it. As CC said in the notes that accompany her article:

“The more I delve into the epic ’70s music scene, the more convinced I am that I’m attending the University of Dayton in the wrong decade.”

CC was nice enuf to grace us with her presence at the reunion and put up with all of our 40+ year old tales. We were all pleased to hear that she plans to do a follow-up piece on the station and the denizens who inhabited it back in the day.

Three guys who couldn’t make it to the VUD reunion that we all wish had been there:

-- Fellow Bostonian, the late Steve Weisberg:

http://www.flyersports.com/cgi/coran...ZpVVVyDySOQDRB

-- The late George Biersack, the guy who made all of this radio magic possible and who gave me my first job in advertising sales back in 1972.

-- My old UD roomie Steve Downes who was in South Carolina for a family gathering that weekend:

http://www.udpride.com/forums/showth...highlight=WVUD

As we mingled in the very studio in KU where Downes and I took Dougherty’s Radio Production 101 course, I retold that story to his wife, Jan. She said “I’ll bet Steve has never heard that” and sure enuf, he had not. Steve seemed most appreciative to know that his class had made such an impact. There were several folks there like Pete Acquaviva who had worked with Steve in VUD’s classical music/”Stereo with Brass” days that preceded the station’s metamorphosis into an AOR groundbreaker.

Besides Covey, two guys (and their spouses) who are present for just about every one of these affairs are Chris Cage, the PD and brains behind WVUD’s album rock format and his better half Amy, as well as Cage’s successor in the VUD PD chair, Geoff Vargo and his wife Sue. One gent who I had not seen in a dog’s age was Steve Wendell, the host of “Wax Museum.” It turns out that Steve bought an AM News Talk radio station in Gardner, MA -- less than 10 miles from my hometown of Leominster!

Fr. Norbert Burns, the host of the midday feature “The Challenge of Modern Day Marriage” on WVUD for many years was there. Fr. Burns is now 90 years young and was still as energetic as ever. We were all standing around in the studio when the doors opened and in walked WVUD’s long-time Chief Engineer. Everyone in the room yelled “Fudge!” in unison, because every one of us had worked with John Fudge and we were all so pleased to see him again and hear his stories.

Speaking of stories, current UD Communications Instructor Roy Flynn interviewed Fudge, Cage, Wendell and yours truly (as well as an earlier group that included Vargo, Covey and Keith Wright) about those halcyon VUD Days. Roy served as emcee and had his TV production students videotape them for the UD Communication Department archives. Cage recounted the time that he received a call from UD Provost Brother Mervar on December 8th one year. Brother Mervar told Cage “Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I think WVUD should play something on the air to honor her. I’ll be listening at 3:00 PM” and hung up. Cage thought about it for a while and then pushed the button on the studio intercom and told the DJ to play “Let It Be” by the Beatles at 3:00 PM and to say it was in honor of her Feast Day. (I’ll pause here while you sing the lyrics to “Let It Be” in your head.) End result: Cage never heard from Brother Mervar again! Fudge told a story about coming to the station late one night and finding “crickets” in the studio and having to admonish the air staff about leaving them lying around. “Crickets”...roaches...same thing, right? The interview was not the most compelling TV programming you will ever watch, but it was a ton of fun doing it.

Didn’t stop by to see it, but there is a plaque in the Humanities Building at UD, acknowledging the sale of WVUD for $3 million in the mid-90s that helped to pay for its construction.

The WVUD call letters live on at a non-commercial educational station owned by “the other UD” in Delaware. Meanwhile, the 99.9 frequency is part of a six station Dayton cluster owned by Clear Channel and is now known as WCHD-FM, “Channel Nine-Nine-Nine” playing “All the Hits.”

Wrong decade indeed, CC.

That’s it “From the Swamp.”
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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