WHRW

WHRW (90.5 FM) is Binghamton University‘s non-profit, student run, free formatradio station. Licensed to Binghamton, New York, United States, the station serves the New York college area. The station is owned by Binghamton University.[2] The station has operational facilities in and on top of the Glenn G. Bartle Library Tower, and in the SUNY Binghamton Student Union.

Radio station at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York
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Radio station in Binghamton, New York
WHRW
City Binghamton, New York
Broadcast area Binghamton, Vestal, Johnson City, Endicott
Frequency 90.5 MHz
Programming
Format Freeform
Ownership
Owner Binghamton University
History
First air date
1966
Call sign meaning
Harpur College Radio Workshop (at the time of conception, the University was known as “Harpur College”)[1]
Technical information
Facility ID 63105
Class A
ERP 1,450 watts
HAAT 29.8 meters
Transmitter coordinates

42°5′24.00″N75°58′5.00″W

Links
Webcast listen live
Website whrw.fm

WHRW is operated by the students of SUNY Binghamton, and interested members of the Greater Binghamton community. WHRW strives to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (which varies with member body size and interest), and broadcasts using a 2,000-watt transmitter at 90.5 MHz on the FM dial.

WHRW’s member body is made up entirely of volunteers, who become members first by “apprenticing” under a current member for a programming season (typically a school semester or over the summer), then passing a Clearance Exam. Since 1996, station members participate in a “Station Service” program, by which they accrue hours by doing things that benefit the station (auditioning CDs for profanities; cleaning up the studios; doing production work; volunteering in the News Department; and many other things). Those hours are then used to determine the member’s “slotting priority” when they request a show. This guarantees that those who give the most to the station get back the most.

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Details about the beginnings of “The Harpur Radio Workshop” are few and far between. In the 1950s, the college was Harpur College, a public college of the State of New York, thus the name of the organization. In 1954, a loose organization formally called “The Radio Workshop of Harpur College” was formed, and it seems that its primary function was to connect interested college students with area commercial radio stations and get them involved in doing production work for these stations.

In October 1961, members of the Workshop began to construct their own AM transmitter. The first incarnation of a self-broadcasting Workshop started in May 1962, then called WRAF (the letters “RAF” were chosen by the Workshop because Harpur College’s Rafuse Residence Hall was where the broadcasts originated). While the broadcasts were received on 590 kHz on a standard AM radio, the broadcasts were carrier-current, which is “closed-circuit” in nature, as they were transmitted through the power lines of only two residence halls. Accordingly, only the residents of those halls could receive the maiden broadcasts.

While WHRW’s free format environment (see below) would arguably become the station’s strongest suit, the days of experimental FM had not yet happened, and WRAF’s days were markedly different. The station regularly polled the student body to try and tailor a programming schedule that would be acceptable to its audience. WRAF actually had a “no rock-and-roll” policy, and focused its broadcast day mostly on classical and “good” non-classical music. However, in 1965, WRAF had its first rock-and-roll show.

In 1965, WRAF’s General Manager proposed moving the station to the FM band, which was still largely unused. In November of that year, the FCC approved the construction of an educational station at the frequency 90.5 MHz (the frequency the station itself requested). The station’s first antenna was atop a 60-foot (18 m) pole located behind the Student Center. The FCC approved the station’s request for “WHRW” as the new station’s call letters. “HRW” was chosen to represent “Harpur Radio Workshop.” While stereo FM had been introduced in the early 1960s, it was not an inexpensive technology, and WHRW’s first transmitter was a humble 10 watts, in mono.

WHRW’s first broadcast was on Friday, February 4, 1966, at 7:30 pm, which was coverage of a Binghamton Colonials basketball game. The formal “inaugural” broadcast took place two days later. WHRW was only the third FM radio station in the Binghamton market.

The broadcasting followed the times and the culture in which it was steeped: Jazz, folk, classical, rock, and other forms of music; news and culture coverage that leaned progressive (Vietnam War protests and debates, news from Pacifica Radio and the BBC); and interviews with local political figures. The regular broadcast schedule ran from Sunday through Thursday, from about 5 pm to 1 am.

In the spring of 1967, the mayor of Binghamton, Joseph Esworthy, was interviewed on the “Open Line” show by the station’s general manager, David R. Cooper. When Esworthy was asked if he favored legalization of marijuana, he answered affirmatively. The next day, the local newspaper, The Evening Press, picked up the story and Esworthy’s political career was essentially ended by the publicity.

In the late 1960s, construction on the new “Faculty Tower” (later to be more famously named the Glenn G. Bartle Library Tower) was completed. It is the tallest building on campus (18 stories) and one of the tallest buildings in the Binghamton area. WHRW’s antenna was moved to the top of this building in April 1968, and remains there to this day. 1969, the year of Woodstock, WHRW-FM broadcast for the first time during the summer months with local volunteers on a daily schedule of music variety shows and news under the first summer General Manager. The program schedule became enormously popular with local listeners and WHRW-FM attracted many more. From that time forward WHRW-FM has always maintained summer programming with great success.

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