WOBC: The Birth of a Station
For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been working on reorganizing the collection of WOBC papers, documents, and photographs that we have at the Archives. I had a radio show last year and have a bunch of friends with radio shows now, so all of this WOBC stuff is super cool to me.
One of the things I came across that particularly sparked my interest was a document called “Report of the Proposed Radio Station.” It was written by Roger W. Brucker, an Oberlin student from the class of ’51 and the founder of what’s now known as WOBC.
The report, created in 1949, begins with pages of typed information concerning all aspects of starting the station to be known as KOCN (changed to WOBC a few years later). The issues addressed are often dense and technical — budget information, issues regarding broadcasting frequencies, anxieties over incoming FCC regulations, and plenty of other radio jargon that’s over my head.
Following all this, though, the report almost becomes an art object. There are pages of hand drawn diagrams showing the necessary wiring networks across the college campus, the floor plan of the station itself, and even beautiful colored illustrations of the interior of the imagined station (pictured above) drawn by Brucker himself and pasted into the bound report.
The original station as Brucker imagined it would have been in the basement of Burton, likely in the exact same space now occupied by the Grape offices. The station’s launch budget of $600 didn’t allow for this, however, and so when the station actually materialized a year later in 1950, it was in the now demolished Publications Building at 32 East College St, directly above the then Oberlin Review offices.
Brucker ended up appointing his classmate Bob Chamberlain as KOCN’s first station manager. Curious to see where Brucker went after Oberlin, I did a quick bit of Googling – turns out he went on to become a famous cave explorer and have nothing to do with radio at all. Go figure!
So much awesome stuff to go through, and it’s all just another day here working at the Archives.
WOBC history! Cooooool.