Getting the Broadcasters Back Together

WRGW alumni came back to campus to connect with each other and current student broadcasters, check out the station's renovated space, and even participate in a special broadcast.

WRGW alumni came back to campus to connect with each other and current student broadcasters, check out the station’s renovated space, and even participate in a special broadcast.

Since 1929, GW’s student-run radio station has rocked, talked, announced, and otherwise broadcast all things Colonial—and more. Originally operated by a radio club as a “radio transmitting station,” the call letters were changed from W3ACY to WRGW in 1958, and listeners can now tune in via radio, cable, and the internet. After broadcasting from multiple locations over the years, the station set up shop on the ground floor of the Marvin Center in 1999 in a location it still calls home today. On Saturday, April 9, WRGW alumni gathered at the recently remodeled Steven E. Smith Broadcasting Center to admire the renovation, catch up with old friends, and reminisce.

“I hosted a music show once a week for three years, sometimes with co-hosts and sometimes alone,” says former music director Tori Kerr, CCAS BA ’14, who attended the event. “I got to interview musicians from bands I loved, like The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, who mix up punk and hard rock and bluegrass.”

One time, Tori recalls having a very important guest on the show—her father, musician Robert Kerr. “Having my dad come on the show was special. He played songs that influenced him when he was growing up and learning to play music.”

The event remained low-key throughout the evening, with alumni and students mingling and trading stories about old times. “There are unofficial memories, like rooftop parties and board game nights,” says Tori. “There are also the official ‘work-related’ memories that are just as sweet, like producing in-studio sessions with artists.”

Tori describes her most memorable session as the one she experienced with singer songwriter Kishi Bashi: “His performance was outstanding, despite using complicated loop pedals and voice effects that our sub-par system didn’t want to play nice with,” she recalls.

As of this year, the current broadcasting facilities are anything but “sub-par.” Thanks to a generous donation from the family of the late Steven Smith, CCAS BA ’08, a former WRGW Sports broadcaster, the station boasts a significant number of upgrades: hardwood floors, track lights, cabinets, and state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment, to name a few.

“The entire space looks a thousand times better,” says former station manager Michael Fische, ESIA BA ’14, who was also in attendance. “It’s now a space that fits the energy and effort of those who use it. We were honored when we first heard about the Smith family donation. I think WRGW has spent the money wisely and in a way that honors the family and improves the station for the entire WRGW community.”

Michael has a particular fondness for the renovations, as many of his memories revolve around his own efforts to make improvements. “I focused (mostly) on the soundboard; it was a relic of the early days at WRGW,” he recalls. “I did tons of research, negotiating, and hours of installing and testing to get the new board operational. It was a challenge, but like most devoted radio members, I felt it was worth the nearly two years of work to get it done.”

And of course, what would a gathering of radio enthusiasts be without a broadcast?

After the guests had the opportunity to tour the station and enjoy light refreshments, general manager Jordan Grobe, GWSB ’16, invited Tori and Michael to join him on the air. “We talked about great memories, pop culture, news, and the new era of podcasting,” says Tori.

Outgoing music director Quinn Myers and incoming general manager Pat Greiger also participated, and they even got a call-in from WRGW alumnus Will Beals, CCAS BA ’14, who worked on talk shows with Michael.

After the broadcast, several members of the group continued on to Go Cozy’s album release at D.C.’s Rock & Roll Hotel. Co-presented by BCDC and WRGW, the concert featured a line-up of local and not-so-local bands. The house was packed, and Tori reports that she was impressed by the caliber of the musicians. “The second band was this great shoegaze band from Philadelphia, Spirit of Beehive, but I most enjoyed local band The El Mansouris, who were so talented I was dying for more.”

A high-energy concert to top off an intimate get-together at the station, the evening turned out to be a sweet mix of the old and the new, and a trip down memory lane for some. Tori describes it well when she recalls her final performance as a WRGW radio host: “My last show, right before I graduated, was bittersweet. I played songs for all of the important people I met at GW to say thanks. Tears were had.”

Marry Follin

 

WRGW alumni interested in reconnecting with the station can contact alumni@gwradio.com to learn more about how to get involved.

 

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One Comment;

  1. Greg Wymer said:

    Nice story and glad to see that the station has improved even further. Also nice to see that this took place just after the 30th anniversary of the relaunch of WRGW, which took place on April 1, 1986. In fact that first broadcast only went to the speakers in the halls of the Marvin Center and the Rat on the 5th floor.

    The Radio-Television department (of which I was a student) had “control” of the equipment in the dorms that allowed for broadcasting to the entire campus (carrier current), but it was an initiative of the Program Board and the then Dean of Housing that allowed us to get back on the air at the end of my sophomore year (after there being no student radio station at all my first two years on campus). I was pleased to be the General Manager for the relaunch and helped shepherd a very rickety first two years. We bought our first two CD players at Circuit City. My, how times have changed.

    Perhaps the best part for me is that we helped fund the station by DJing parties all across campus, and to this day I am still DJing as a side gig to my full-time job. I was in DC last July 4th weekend, but sadly the entire Marvin Center was closed. I look forward to visiting when I can have the chance to visit.

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