Remembering WDBS

The Campus Radio Station of Duke University (1950-1983)


WDBS Begins FM Broadcasting

This article appeared in the Duke Chronicle on May 17, 1971.

By Mark Walling

Beginning at 7 a.m. this morning WDBS will be broadcasting at an FM frequency of 107.1, in addition to its regular AM programs.

The FM broadcast, which will reach the entire Durham area and probably Chapel Hill, will be the same as the AM program except for its wider range.

After the first week WDBS FM will broadcast in stereo.

The hours of broadcast will be from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., while the AM outlet will remain on the air 24 hours a day.

"We feel that we have a special service to offer the Durham-Chapel Hill area in that we will be the only FM station in this area which caters to those in the 18 to 24 year-old age range," said George Graham, program director, in an interview yesterday.

On Saturday, WDBS completed the purchase of its new FM frequency from WSRC, a station which serves Durham's black community.

During this upcoming summer, WDBS will be providing technical assistance to the members of WSRC in establishment of Durham's first black-owned radio station. WSRC was formerly white-owned, according to Bob Chapman of WDBS.

The members of WSRC are forming a community radio workshop, which, if successful, will lead to this station being the first black-controlled public broadcasting facility in the United States.

"WDBS will be serving the needs and interests of the whole Durham community, with special regard and responsibility to the black community," said Chapman. "In no way will WDBS cater solely to the Duke constituency."

Among the community-aimed programs which WDBS now carries are a "Martin Luther King Speaks" program; a Carolina conservationist spot; "At Issue," a public affairs program; and a program called "Triangle Crosswords," with material supplied by the listening audience.

In addition, WDBS is planning to broadcast a ten-minute summary of the Durham City Council meetings, a program summarizing meetings on the subject of race relations, and a program on local government called "Community Review."

WDBS-FM will be a commercial radio station operating on a nonprofit basis. According to Graham, those campus radio stations which have adopted this method of operation have been very successful.

Despite this increased community orientation, the music will remain essentially the same, said Graham.

WDBS will continue its present news format, with the possible addition of American FM radio news service reports to the UPI reports which WDBS now receives.

In the twenty-three years of its existence, WDBS has grown quickly. Originally, WDBS broadcast from the basement of the Divinity School, and was only on the air for part of the day.

In 1963, the station moved to its present location in the Bivins Building on East Campus. Then, in 1965, after going off the air for the first semester while new transmitters were installed, WDBS went to twenty-four hour a day broadcasting. WDBS now has approximately 3000 albums in its files and almost an equal number of 45's.

According to Tom Fine, business manager, the greatest improvements in recent years have been in the quality of WDBS's news coverage and in the quality of the music played.

Fine pointed out that WDBS has provided extensive coverage of major student disturbance since the 1968 Vigil, including the Allen Building takeover, the Washington Moratorium of November 1969, the Cambodia-Kent and Jackson State demonstrations of May 1970 and the Mayday operation this spring.


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