The Campus Radio Station of Duke University (1950-1983)
Kathy CheatwoodNov. 7, 2007
Kathy Cheatwood here. I accidentally tripped onto your webpage about WDBS and wanted to write to say how much I enjoyed reminiscing for a few minutes. Boy those were the days for sure. I was there in the early 1980s.
About the early 80s there at least from my perspective.
I came to work at WDBS on March 15, 1980, having been at a radio station in Blacksburg, Va (WKEX) a daytime AM country format across the street from VPI (now known as Va Tech.) initially as the commercial traffic manager. But the station was in turmoil over an affair between two staffers and within six weeks they had resigned and I had been promoted to GM. Don't ask me how these things happened, they just did.
I remember well some of the staff like Steve Haughton, one of the nicest men I ever met. I used to begin salivating for a cold beer every day at 5pm when I heard the strains of Night Breeze come across the old radio on my desk downstairs. Chris Brunig was one of the sale staff who was also a great guy. Nancy Ross rescued me for a month or two by letting me live with her out in the country when I first moved to Durham. I later moved to an apartment on Clarendon St and walked to work most days. And I cherished my friendship with Shanga Sadiki for many years.
Chris Deulis was another jock, a youngster by the station standards and it was at his house we all gathered a couple of years later to watch the movie FM. We laughed at how real it was.
Bob Conroy was my mentor too and became one of my best friends and stayed so for many years after we all grew up and left. I learned more about life at WDBS than I could have ever learned anywhere else I suspect. I was only 27 at the time and I too remember that snow storm. In fact I got my job at DBS because of that snow storm. My parents lived in Goldsboro, NC and I had been visiting them at Thanksgiving in 79. I got caught in the snowstorm the Sunday after and ended up in Chapel Hill at the Carolina Inn. The next morning at breakfast I heard these folks talking about radio and asked them where they worked. They (Mike Rowe and Kathy Stanford) told me they worked for the Duke Radio station, and I told them if they ever needed someone to run traffic or do news I was available and gave them my phone number. They called me right after the first of the year and offered me a job. I packed up lock, stock and barrel and moved to Durham in March of 1980.
I essentially became a fixture at DBS as I stayed through all of its incarnations until it was sold by Rich Glover (after becoming Foxy 107) to a venture capital company out of New York. By then I was the only one left from the earlier years.
You might want to put on your website that the first song played on the new and improved WDBS on May 13 (I think), 1973 was Bob Conroy's choice... "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles.
Glad to travel a few minutes down memory lane. Maybe I'll remember more later.
PS - ain't the internet grand?
I'm glad you're doing this memory sort of thing. My mom passed away with Alzheimer's several years ago and we are all so sad we didn't take better notes now that she isn't here to share her memories with us.
Though I hope that's not my fate, I do think that saving history of our lives and times is worth the effort.
I also remembered something else later today. We used to go to the Tower to hold "Staff" meetings on Friday afternoons. They weren't really meetings of course, but dang they were fun. It was a very special time in the country with people beginning to stretch their wings and their voices and I was proud to be a part of the revolution.
Also Mike Cross used to be my favorite heart throb crush. He'd come over to the studios when no one was around and pick a while. I think he might have actually recorded some stuff for his own amusement.
If I can catch BC (Conroy) at home and get him talking, he might remember a great story of mac davis (who was representing Arista I think at the time) coming for a record rep visit and everyone going for food at the ivy Room late one night. he kept talking about a song he'd written and was hoping it would be picked up by somebody like Elvis. It was "In the Ghetto." But this was way before my time, probably in the early 70s before Chapman left.
I wish I could find my one memento from DBS, an old black T-shirt with the Bluebird logo on it. I think it disintegrated some time back from sheer age! LOL
It did get ugly later when the station was sold to a stooge who changed the format to beautiful music. After he ran it into the ground and moved the studios off campus (it no longer belonged to Duke) he and partner sold it to Rich Glover who already owned WDUR-AM, at that time a black gospel station. Rich and wife Michelle cranked up the whole shebang by switching to an urban comtemp format at midnight one night.
Alvin Stowe (PD for DUR) had cut a great spot to welcome in the new format. It all went as planned too. At 11:52pm or some-such WDBS was playing "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra. Then at exactly midnight Alvin's voice boomed out... "Welcome to the dawn of a new radio age...... Foxy 107" and the amazingly hard guitar opening of "When Doves Cry" by Prince kicked in at level 10. I'm sure it woke up a couple of old fogies who were getting their Saturday night nookie! LOL Probably caused a heart attack or two. I actually have a cassette with that historic moment. Two books later the station was number one in the market for the first time ever.
Well enough memories for now. Feel free to use this stuff or not, just my brain wanderings and not worth much to anyone I suspect.