On Nov. 2, elected city and state officials and university staff joined a large crowd of WESU volunteers and staff in Wesleyan’s Daniel Family Commons for an event commemorating the community radio station’s landmark 75th anniversary.State Representatives Matt Lesser and Joe Serra presented the WESU Board of Directors with a citation, and Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew was joined by Councilmen Grady Faulkner and David Bauer to present the station with a Proclamation from the City of Middletown.
Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Center for Community Partnerships, and Ben Michael, WESU general manager, gave brief remarks about the important role WESU has played in fostering university and community engagement.
WESU Board of Directors President Danielle Pruitt ’15 and Vice President Rebecca Seidel ’15, vice president, spoke about the station’s mission to reach audiences who have been marginalized by mainstream media, and they introduced the debut screening of a new short film about the history of WESU, produced by WESU production director Abigail Shneyder. The nine-minute documentary illustrates how the station grew into a valuable community service over the last seven decades and features archival photos, documents, and program guides.
After the film presentation, Mayor Drew talked about the importance of independent media within the current state of media consolidation. Drew was joined by Councilmen Bauer and Faulkner in presenting the station with a Proclamation from the City commemorating Nov. 2, 2014 as “WESU’s 75th Anniversary Day.” That was followed by the presentation of a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly, introduced by Reps. Matt Lesser ’10 (100th District) and Joe Serra (33rd District) and Sens. Dante’ Bartolomeo (13th District) and Paul Doyle (9th District).
Prior to the program, attendees met at Olin Library for an ongoing exhibition titled “WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio,” which offers an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States using photographs, documents, news clippings and artifacts. Wesleyan University Archivist Leith Johnson curated the show.
Established in 1939, WESU is one of the oldest non-commercial radio stations in the United States. The station currently broadcasts at the frequency of 88.1 FM from its 6,000-watt transmitter located atop Exley Science Center with a potential to reach over one million listeners throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. WESU also streams audio, online through the website www.wesufm.org.