You’re A Teenager – It’s 1968 – You’re From L.A. – You’re Living In Boston – College Radio Is Bizarre
Admit it, you wanted to be a disc-jockey at your college radio station. Anybody who owned more than 25 records considered themselves experts on the subject and capable of entertaining people for hours, if not days, with their arcane, groovy and hip musical sensibilities. We all had friends; or friends of friends, who were working at those stations, and if we were persistent or took a Communications Class (or Broadcast as it was known in the dark ages) and practiced our announcing and record cuing skills, we’d be in line for a slot – or a stand-in on the weekend. College radio from the early 70s on got a little more “slick” with the advent of NPR – an aura of professionalism got injected in the mix. But before that, it was lots of dead-air time, bad adenoids and skipping records. But you were on the air and people were listening. Not every College station was like that – many of them became launching pads for careers later on. And now, some of those stations are no longer run by students.
One of those stations on the arch side of professional, while still being student-run, was at MIT in Boston – with the call letters WTBS (later to be changed because Turner Broadcasting wanted it), they were, without question, one of the most audacious, high-voltate college radio stations in the country during the 1960s
Here is a small sampling of what they were doing 50 years ago by way of the Joe Shmo Go-Go Show from WTBS – this was freeform radio at its most hyperactive. But it also serves as a reminder that College Radio was an integral part of the radio listening experience – and much of the time you were hearing music you didn’t hear anywhere else – skipping records, cracked voices, open mikes and noisy control rooms. And in 1968, no less.