It was 75 years ago, at 8:30 p.m. on February 24, 1941, to be precise, that radio station CURC officially went on the air. Broadcasting from the Hamilton Hall Annex, a recording of “Roar, Lion, Roar” was heard by AM listeners in Hartley, Wallach (then called Livingston) and John Jay Halls. That was followed by light classical music, sports, jazz, campus news and symphonic music.
It was the maiden “official” broadcast of the Columbia University Radio Club — an unofficial debut had taken place on December 31, 1940, when there was a microphone line at the New Year’s Eve party in the John Jay dining hall. “Of course, everyone was at the party, so there is no record of a listener to that first transmission,” club president William Hutchins ’39, SEAS’41, told CCT for a WKCR retrospective published in 1986.
Granted its FCC license on October 10, 1941, CURC became WKCR (King’s Crown Radio) in 1946 when the FCC officially recognized college radio stations by giving them call letters. Since 1956, WKCR has been broadcasting to the metropolitan New York area in FM at its current signal, 89.9 megacycles. For more on WKCR then and now, go to cc-seas.columbia.edu/wkcr.
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