By Alyssa Seidman
At exactly 4 p.m. on March 16, 1965, WCWP-FM went live on the air for the first time. This Monday, March 16, the station turned 50 years old. The anniversary was commemorated with a special live broadcast from studio one in the Benjamin Abrams Communication Center.
“This is a milestone [that] can be shared by multiple generations of LIU Post students. WCWP is a unique place with a storied history of excellence and innovation,” said Dan Cox (‘85), WCWP’s director of broadcasting.
The anniversary show was hosted by Jeff Kroll (’75), who also hosts “The Rock Show” on 88.1 FM. It featured WCWP alumni from the last five decades, including Hank Neimark (‘64), former station manager, and the first-ever voice heard on WCWP- FM. One by one, guest alumni shared stories from their tenure at the LIU Post radio station while Kroll took calls from listeners – mostly other WCWP alumni – tuning in to the broadcast.
“WCWP has been not only a place for students to learn and practice radio broadcasting, but [is also] a second home to many,” Cox said. One of the defining characteristics of WCWP-FM is the diversity of majors that have roamed the station’s halls for the past 50 years, according to Cox. “You do not have to be a media or broadcast major to work at WCWP. Many of our members and alumni just love music, sports, news, and want to be involved in an organization that will improve their communication skills. Our greatest accomplishment is the feeling of family and community among our current staff, students, community volunteers and alumni,” he added.
Neimark rang in the momentous occasion precisely the way he had 50 years before. At 4:00, the founder of WCWP-FM delivered his original tagline, “first on your FM dial,” to honor the occasion. Neimark recalled the poor reception of the early sixties and the AM station. “We had a little, AM-carrier-current transmitter that was supposed to transmit to the dorms, but the signal to noise ratio was so atrocious that it was impossible to hear anything.”
With the assistance of the station’s first faculty advisor, Dr. Herbert Coston, Neimark and his band of merry broadcasters were able to pioneer a new venue for radio content apart from the pre-existing AM station, which was spearheaded by fellow radio founder Arthur Beltrone (‘63). Neimark attributes Coston’s “enthusiasm and foresight” to the establishment of the FM station, taking the physical steps of gaining a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and gathering “the bricks and electrical conduit” to build the Abrams Communication Center. Neimark added that he had “shoveled the first spade of dirt for [the building’s] groundbreaking.”
Members of the WCWP family, both young and old, shared their thoughts on the station’s momentous accomplishment.
“[I] learned everything I know [from working at WCWP]. I was just an 18 year old kid. I knew nothing when I walked in here other than I had the desire – I wanted to be involved in radio,” Kroll said. “Eventually, I became a disc jockey, which I really had no intention of doing, and now I still do that. I ended up getting jobs in broadcasting, [and] I worked for 10 years in the business. It’s still fun after all these
years.” Samantha Negron, a sophomore Broadcasting major and coordinator for Midday Madness and Total Access programming at WCWP, said, “Seeing [the alumni] come in is really awesome. They’re so enthusiastic; they love it here, they love what they do, and I just see a lot of that in me. I hope that one day, maybe 50 years from now, I could be doing something like they’re doing.”
“The surprising thing is the legacy [of the station], which is how many people have used this place as a springboard for their careers,” Neimark said. “The other thing about the place is the camaraderie, the cohesiveness of people through the generations; you come in here and you feel part of the big family.”
“It’s really cool to be here hearing the history of the station from the last 50 years, and how they’ve made it better and better over time,” said Peter Sacoulas, a sophomore Information Technology major who is the technical operations engineer for the station. “Today, I’m here helping make it even better for the next generation to come, and the generations after that. And I hope I’m here for the 100th anniversary.”