Remembering WDBS

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

Richard Safran

Jan. 12, 2006


Thank you soooo much for your page on WDBS. It's been a long time, but I remember having much fun over there.

In 1978 Steve Haughton hired me as a fill-in DJ for DBS. I wasn't a Duke student, but I had 2 roommates who were. They were the president and vice-president of the concert committee. That's how I met Steve. Steve was a great guy. Lots of fun to work for, and let me program anything that came to mind, and in '78 what came to my mind was pretty flakey. I usually ended up doing the midnight to 6 (8?) shift. Played a lot of post-summer of love stuff. Long sets of the Dead especially.

I also managed to get fill-in shifts at WXYZ-FM at UNC-Chapel Hill. No money (hey, that $2.75 an hour at DBS was some of the sweetest money I ever earned), but those midnight shifts got exceptionally weird. What I remember most from XYZ was EVERY night, at least 2 (very wasted) people would call up demanding "zeppelin, man!!!", even after I had just played some :)

The only negative thing I remember about DBS was sometime around 82/83, a new station manager was hired. Not a student or faculty, but a very uptight gentleman whose mission appeared to be to remake DBS into the archetype of a corporate station. Anyone whose FCC ticket wasn't on file in the studio was not allowed on the air. The problem was that whoever had filed them had no idea where most of them were. I got a call one cold night from another jock (whose name, damn me, I can't remember) who had hurt his neck, and was physically miserable at the console. If you can't turn your neck, it is really hard to keep switching the discs on the turntables to your left and right, and then cue them on the console in front of you. So I came in to take over for him. I was on the air for a few minutes, and the guy I replaced was about to go home, when the new manager pops in. He glares at me, and says "where's your license?". I had no idea. I had handed it to someone in management a year or more ago. I told him it's in the station files. He tells me to get out of the chair and tells the guy I replaced to get back on the air. I argued with him for probably 15 minutes, trying to point out that the poor guy was in pain. He couldn't care less, and wouldn't let me back on the air. I didn't like him.

Again, thanks for putting that page together. The pictures are great to look at.

Richard Safran
New York City

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