Since 1975, Olivet College’s own student-run radio station, WOCR 89-1, has helped give its students a voice across campus and within the local community.
From sports to politics, Comet news to high-energy music, majors and non-majors alike have been taking it to the air to learn what it takes to become a radio star.
When assistant professor of business administration Michael Oyster ’77 came to campus in the fall of 1974, it was then-sophomore Chuck Mefford ’76 who enlisted his help to build a 100-watt station in the bottom of the Kirk Center.
Just a decade earlier, the only broadcasting system Olivet College had was a carrier current station that transmitted through the phone lines, meaning that most students could only tune in from their dorm rooms if they wanted to catch the latest news bulletin, Beatles hit or Motown artist.
With a donation of $10,000 from J. Marshall Robbins and support of several faculty members behind them, Oyster and Mefford led a team of students to lay the groundwork of Olivet College’s first student-run radio station, and WOCR found its place on the FM dial at the 89-7 frequency.
Oyster recalls that the addition of a radio station on campus created quite a buzz from the college community, and quickly their peers showed interested in joining the new station’s staff.
“It was new at the time and everyone was excited,” Oyster said. “We assembled a group of interested students who wanted to be on the air and started to train them, then worked with the college to put together a curriculum – a course or two – in the FCC licensing so we taught them how to run the equipment and all, but we taught them how to pass the FCC test so they could all be licensed and be on the air.”
Today, the station still calls the basement of the Kirk Center home after having since moved to 89-1 on the FM dial. Students of all majors have eagerly joined the staff over the years as disc jockeys to try their chops at being the next Howard Stern, Larry King, Rachel Maddow and Laura Schlessinger.
Freshman Corey Hricovsky is a journalism and mass communication (JMC) major and current disc jockey on-air at WOCR who aspires to be a radio personality someday.
Hricovsky has enjoyed the creative freedom that the station encourages of its students when it comes to show programming while gaining experience to help him become the next radio-great.
“I mainly run a rock show with a lot of talking in it. I would like to compare it to a more tamed Howard Stern show crossed over with Dahmer after Dark, if anyone has ever heard of that last show,” Hricovsky said, who’s on-air alias is “The Infamous Orion.”
For other students like sophomore staff members Crissta Ames and Daniel Neugent, being on-air has not only been a great way to have their voices heard, but to also learn professional skills they’ll both use long after their time at Olivet College.
“It is a great way to have student voices literally heard,” Neugent said. “I have learned how to speak in a fluent professional and accurate way. From this job I have learned a lot about how to present myself in a professional work environment no matter what style it is.”
Neugent, a graphic design and art dual major with a concentration in business, also hosts his own sports talk show after getting involved last year as a color commentator during live WOCR basketball game coverage.
“I do a sports talk show, commentate on basketball and football games, as well as just play music on a regular basis. I love to do this because I truly feel like I am making a difference not only on campus but in the local community,” Neugent said. Next fall, he will be following in Mefford’s footsteps as station manager.
Ames echoes Neugent’s sentiments, crediting WOCR for helping her find a way to relate easier to others through playing music while also gaining “needed experience in the field” as a JMC major, like Hricovsky.
“Yes! It (WOCR) has helped me improve my speech – and I guess you could call it charisma. By that, I just mean that it’s a lot easier to talk to people now,” Ames explained, who currently hosts her show “SpontaneaMania” on Mondays from 2 p.m. to 4 pm. and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. featuring rock and dance music.
Live From Olivet
Last year, WOCR celebrated its 40th anniversary as a radio station. Over the course of four decades, the station has survived immense changes in broadcasting technology. From turntables to cassette tapes, CDs and now online streaming, one thing has remained the same: WOCR continues to be an opportunity for students to shape an especially unique college experience, no matter what major they are.
“What it (WOCR) taught us was leadership, it taught us confidence that if we put our minds to something we could go accomplish it, and they really did prepare us for the future. It didn’t matter if you were in radio or not…,” Oyster said.
As a non-major, Neugent never thought that when he first walked onto campus as freshman he would become a DJ at a college radio station, nor that his decision on a whim to join the staff would make such a large impact on his life.
“I have made WOCR such a big part of my life and going into college it wasn’t even on my radar, so no matter what you choose to do in college just try something outside of your comfort zone,” Neugent said, and encourages interested students to jump into the “air-chair” to see for themselves too.
“If you even think you could possibly want to have your voice broadcast over campus, you need to come try it out. It is a good experience that only gets better with time!” Neugent said.
Interested in being an on-air personality for WOCR? Contact station advisor Joanne Williams by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 269.749.6630 to learn more. Listen live at wocrfm.com for all of the latest Comet news coverage.
*Previously posted on olivetcollege.edu