The Sounds of Silence: In Memoriam to WSJB-FM

Where have you gone?

Ray Davies and the Kinks performed a classic rock tune that I just can't get out of my head today. It was called Around the Dial, and it had catchy lyrics that seem a fitting way to introduce this hub:

"I've been around the dial so many times, But you're not there. Somebody tells me that you've been taken off the air. Well, you were my favorite D.J., Since I can't remember when. You always played the best records, You never followed any trend. F.M., A.M. where are you? You gotta be out there somewhere on the dial. On the dial." *

Take a look at my user name here on Hub Pages. The name Crash Cromwell has its roots in a little obscure radio studio in the doldrums of St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine. That's where I earned my bachelor's degree in communications. Make no mistake - I love my alma mater, and that is one of the chief reasons why I have chosen to write this hub.

A few days ago, I happened to be in the neighborhood of the college, and I decided to stop by. While I was there, I ran into one of my old professors who was preparing for the upcoming school year. We talked about students we both knew, he wanted to know if I was still teaching for a local community college. I told him no, but I was teaching online and loving it. Then I asked him how things were going at WSJB, the campus radio station.

I was shocked and saddened when he told me that the interest in the station had dwindled, and since the equipment was falling into disrepair, the college administration had decided to turn in its license last year.

Just like that, the radio station where I had served as a night time host of "Crash's Clambake," featuring Crash's Clan of Clambake Creamheads had disappeared. Just like that, the station where I served as the Assistant Program Director as a freshman, as the Promotions Director as a sophomore, as the Chief Announcer as a senior (junior year I took a break as an officer), and the station that had given me my voice in radio was all gone.

I'm posting this with the intention of spreading the word to St. Joseph's College alumni to let them know of this decision. It sounds to me like this was a financial decision. It also sounds to me like the college may not have put money back into the equipment at the station, which would serve to follow; if you've got broken down obsolete equipment on which to learn, who's going to want to learn in that kind of environment?

I wrote a letter to the alumni department at the college which I am posting here. Any college alumni who wish to weigh in with their thoughts on this matter (or for that matter, any one who values alternative college radio) please feel free to leave a comment.

Here is my letter to the alumni department:

To whom it may concern:

I was saddened to learn that the college turned in its license to operate WSJB-FM at the end of the school year last year. Many St. Joseph's College alumni over the years have gone on to have successful careers in the radio industry, after getting started at WSJB.

In fact, although I later chose to pursue a career in print journalism, at the time that I enrolled at St. Joseph's College, I wanted to be in radio. Consequently, I never would have attended the college were it not for WSJB.

I have shared this news with other college alumni with whom I am in contact, and I am not alone in my displeasure at this decision.

I understand that the cost of attending St. Joseph's has risen dramatically. I also learned that the cost to repair or replace the equipment that had fallen into disrepair is less than the bill one student would pay to attend our school. It seems such a small price to pay to maintain a program that had such a long and distinguished history.

I urge the college administration to consider all options to continue to provide training to communications majors who wish to pursue a career in radio broadcasting.

Sincerely,

James F. Henry '89

* Lyrics from Around the Dial, written by Ray Davies, published by Davray Music LTD., was taken from http://kinks.it.rit.edu/discography/showsong.php?song=19 .

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Comments 3 comments

Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good hub, Crash. I admit I wondered where the hubname came from.

I think college radio is vital for the obvious reasons. Luckily, the radio station at U of O in Eugene (the sister city to my town of Springfield) is alive and thriving. In fact there are two: One is the alternative station which most students listen to, and one is KWAX, which plays classical and covers the very active classical music functions, such as the Oregon Bach Festival, in Eugene.

I hope you can revive your college station.


crashcromwell profile image

crashcromwell 8 years ago from Florida Author

At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst there used to be three or four radio stations, though a couple were low power, unlicensed pirate stations. WSJB had 350 watts when I was there. We had a range of at least 40 miles, on occasion further.

I had a professor from graduate school who left my university (SIUC) and went to U of O. He's moved on since then, but I have a good opinion of Eugene.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Thanks.  It's quite the hippie/college community, eh?  Reminds me alot of the Cali beach communities.  And I love that the arts (and not to mention the sports programs) are so nurtured and well-funded.

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