WKPS: Wikis


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Broadcast area State College, Pennsylvania
Branding The LION 90.7 FM
Slogan "The Soundtrack to Penn State"
Frequency 90.7 FM (MHz)
First air date October 31, 1995
Format College Radio
ERP 100 watts
HAAT 14 meters
Class A
Facility ID 65471
Transmitter coordinates 40°47′58.00″N 77°52′11.00″W / 40.79944°N 77.86972°W / 40.79944; -77.86972
Owner Pennsylvania State University
Webcast http://www.thelion.fm/listen
Website http://www.thelion.fm

WKPS (known as "The Lion 90.7 FM") is a college radio station owned by Penn State University. The station runs on a full-time, multi-format schedule featuring a wide variety of programming. "The Lion 90.7 FM" transmits to a potential audience of over 125,000 from its studio in the HUB-Robeson Center. The station also has a live webcast, which is capable of streaming live to hundreds of listeners. WKPS is an FCC-licensed radio station with the primary goal being to serve the campus and local community and secondary goals being the training, education and instruction of students in broadcast radio and station management. The station is run entirely by Penn State students and volunteer members, without any affiliation with Pennsylvania State University administrators.




Origins of Penn State Student Radio

WDFM 91.1, which went on the air December 6, 1953, was Penn State's original student radio station. It was first conceived by the Class of 1951 and given to the University as a class gift.[1] A faculty member from the College of Communications served as a hands-on manager and full-time adviser. The radio station enjoyed quite a bit of popularity (and even controversy) in its early days, with certain DJs (including future faculty adviser Robert Zimmerman) opting to play cutting-edge artists such as Elvis Presley when doing so was not widely deemed acceptable. In the early days of WDFM, jazz and classical music were played, but Zimmerman staged call-ins and requests to allow a wider variety of music to be featured. The primary goal of WDFM was to provide a hands-on learning experience for students interested in radio communications, but it also strove to serve the community with unique programming.

WDFM was open not only to student membership, but also to faculty and staff of the university. Through the years, and particularly in the 1980s, faculty membership increased gradually. Student-specific programming was also cut back little by little, with such programs eventually relegated to weekend nights.

"WDFM" remained the call letters for the radio station until 1985, when the call letters WPSU, formerly in use by the FM station at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, were retired. WDFM picked up the call letters and a new era of Penn State radio began. WPSU became a part of Penn State Public Broadcasting under the university's Department of Continuing and Distance Education as opposed to being affiliated with the College of Communications. This period of time also marked a dramatic rise in the involvement of non-students on the staff, no longer necessarily serving the goals of the original station endowed by the Class of 1951.[2] As faculty and academic involvement increased, student involvement began to wane. The radio station endowed by former students to serve their best interests was being turned into a faculty-run operation.

Because the faculty was now mostly (though not yet solely) responsible for providing programming for the station, WPSU began syndicating NPR shows. Such programming increased gradually through the 1980s, but more markedly from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Finally, by 1992, WPSU was a full-fledged NPR affiliate with very few student ties and very little student programming.[3] Despite the fact that the "new" radio station's mission and goals were dissimlar to those of early WDFM, the university allowed WPSU to exist in spite of its changes.

WEHR (1972-2005)

Logo of now-defunct East Halls Radio.

On the AM dial, there also existed WEHR, a radio station in Penn State's East Residence Halls ("EHR" stands for "East Halls Radio"). At one time, each of Penn State's five residence areas had a radio station, however, only WEHR in East Halls survived, and only to an extent.[4] WEHR's format was undefined, varying depending on the deejay.

WEHR originally broadcast from 10 Geary Hall, moving to 104 Johnston Commons sometime in the early 1980s. The station was set up to broadcast through the electric system in the dormitories of East Halls, via a carrier current, a system that failed miserably, so the station's main broadcast was through speakers into Johnston and Findlay commons. At some point, the station lost its ability to transmit over the radio dial and was forced to accept being heard infrequently on Penn State University's House and Food Services (HFS) Channel 21 on the on-campus cable television system.

The last broadcast schedule was posted on the station's website in 2005. Since that time, with limited resources, finances and student interest, WEHR has ceased to function. The last staff to operate East Halls radio was Evan Raffel as General Manager, Alex Kozak and Programming Director, Jack Greening as deejay, Michael Boyson as Treasurer and James Peters as Business Manager. East Halls radio facility is said to house potentially the largest student archive of vinyl on-campus. From 1995 until 2005, Penn State had two student-run radio stations. By 2005, only WKPS remained.

Re-emergence and creation of WKPS

A growing number of students, becoming aware of the situation and disillusioned with their options, decided to give student radio another try. A small group of students, led by Jeff Ecker, asked the university to provide funding to begin a brand-new radio station in the tradition of WDFM (insofar as its student-oriented focus), but one distinct from WPSU. The new station would seek to serve the listening community by providing alternative and cultural programming not found in local commercial radio. WKPS went on the air on Halloween - Tuesday, October 31, 1995.[5] The first song ever played on its airwaves was "Please Play This Song on the Radio" by NOFX.

A view of The LION 90.7fm studio from the patio of the HUB-Robeson Center.

WKPS was chartered as a student club under Penn State's office of Student Affairs to avoid a fate similar to that of WDFM. Though this move would prove problematic for the radio station in the future, it was ultimately heralded as the decision which would keep the station firmly within the students' grasp. Lacking in any professional oversight, the early radio station relied heavily on the staff of WPSU-FM 91.5 FM, with whom they shared the University-rented James building (also shared by the The Daily Collegian). Any oversight and support were extremely short-lived, however: WPSU relocated in May 1998.

As per its FCC licensure, WKPS tweaked the original goals of WDFM, citing primarily the need to provide for the State College community and Penn State students with public service; secondarily, the need to provide a hands-on, co-curricular learning environment for students interested in broadcast media; and finally, to provide a recreational extracurricular activity for students. Therefore, WKPS was open to students of all majors, not specifically those in the College of Communications for broadcast media. The station offered opportunities that the previous student radio stations hadn't seen - in 1999, students of the university began broadcasting Penn State football.

Incidentally, "WKPS" was the fictitious student radio station featured in the 1990 film 'Pump Up The Volume" starring Christian Slater.

Problems with Communication

The 2000-2001 academic year was busy for WKPS. Officers of the station, including Michael D. Walsh, began restructuring the station's image and unveiled the "new" station as "The Lion 90.7FM." This academic year, however, would prove to be a difficult one for the radio station. Members on the original Student Organization Budgeting Committee (SOBC) had graduated and, though WKPS had been given generous funding in the past, the funding began to decrease in amount each year as student board members began to graduate. By 2000, students in the University Park Allocations Committee (which replaced the SOBC) were not so inclined to give the station money. UPAC cut funding for The Lion 90.7FM by 80 percent during the 2000-2001 academic year, a decrease which nearly crippled the station.[6] Student General Manager Mike Walsh secured funding from the office of Student Affairs, with its Vice President Bill Asbury allegedly promising to provide funding support for an additional five years. The exact terms of this verbal contract are contested—when Vicky Triponey became the Vice President of Student Affairs, the University claimed Asbury only promised three years.

In order to secure more professional oversight for the station, The Lion 90.7FM attempted the following year to create a mutually beneficial partnership with Penn State's College of Communications. The University agreed to create such a relationship, and the office of Student Affairs and the College of Communications each offered to pay half of the salary for a faculty adviser, which the new station had lacked since its inception.[7] The relationship deteriorated rapidly. Jeff Brown, the faculty adviser, quickly moved to promote the agenda of the College of Communications - to create an exclusively co-curricular experience - without regard to the station's stated goals or charter as an extracurricular club in Student Affairs.[8] The rocky relationship continued until College wired its student news studio into the station's sound board without warning or permission.

The Lion Riot Incident

In an incident now known as the "Lion Riot" (audio accessible on The Lion 90.7FM's web archive), faculty members of the College of Communications stormed into the radio station and berated deejays while on-air. Audio of the incident begins with DJs on air at the time - including President and General Manager Michael Walsh - trying to make smalltalk before the Comm students' news report was scheduled to be fed into the broadcast. When the broadcast didn't work, the DJs jokingly questioned its quality and necessity. Faculty members then broke through the airlock and began yelling at the DJs, who were still stationed at the microphones. They left their microphones on intentionally.

While one staffer explained how to patch the broadcast through, another staffer in the background continued to yell at the on-air DJs. The latter allegedly knocked into Walsh (disputedly by accident or intentionally, but resulting in an audible "pop" over the microphone) prompting Walsh to ask her if she'd like to hit him. Because the incident was recorded,[9] and because the faculty members' actions were illegal by state and federal laws, the Lion Riot created much controversy among students and administrators. The Lion 90.7FM still references the Lion Riot from time to time, particularly the "do you want to hit me? Come on, hit me" Walsh quote, which airs regularly in audio imaging for the station.

Aftermath of the Lion Riot

A view inside The LION 90.7fm studio from the HUB-Robeson Center.

By the summer of 2002, the relationship with the College of Communications had dissolved entirely, and Student Affairs were no longer willing to pay half of the adviser's salary. Recent graduate and former WKPS officer Christopher Buchignani was hired for substantially less to replace Jeff Brown for one year. In the summer of 2003, the College of Communications, who leased the space in the James Building, forced The Lion 90.7 FM to evict. Dr. Stanley Latta, Director of Unions & Student Activities under Penn State's office of Student Affairs, authorized the station's move to the Hetzel Union Building. Room 9, right next to the HUB's large aquarium, was designated the main studio, with additional offices (one of which would become The Lion's production room) allotted to the station on floor three. On October 1, 2003, the station went live from room nine.

Though the new station was smaller than the station to which the staff had become accustomed, it allowed for The Lion 90.7FM to be physically independent. Live webcasts, added to the station's website the previous year, were a hit with a growing student and community audience of both State College residents and distant alumni. The webcasts continue to be popular today, nearly reaching their listener capacity limit each time The Lion 90.7FM broadcasts a Penn State football game.

WKPS Funding Controversy

Student staffers had only begun to get settled, however, when in 2004, newly installed Vice President of Student Affairs Vicky Triponey cut all funding to the radio station. Though she allegedly cited WKPS's flagship talk show Radio Free Penn State as the cause,[10] she denied that its administratively-critical tack led to her decision. Instead, she claimed that The Lion 90.7FM was only promised three years of support by Asbury, a charge Asbury himself did not contest. The station managed to stay afloat, and with charitable contributions from listeners and alumni and help from UPAC, The Lion 90.7FM maintained its position in the Penn State Community.

In late 2005, student General Manager Brandon W. Peach assumed the responsibility for putting the station back on the right financial track. While the problems with the administration would continue to grow,[11] the radio station has been able to procure aid from alternate sources and continue to provide an outlet for multi-format student radio. In 2006, the Penn State Student Radio Alumni Interest Group (SRAIG) renewed the station's FCC License, held by the Penn State Board of Trustees, ensuring that the station would be around in some form until 2014.

Faculty adviser Robert Zimmerman died on Monday, January 15, 2007, due to an allergic reaction to medication. He was 73 years old.[12] The Lion 90.7FM continues to operate, but is financially jeopardized due to high operating expenses and limited income sources.[13].


Weekday Programming

  • The Wake-Up Call (Weekdays 7AM-9AM) is a student-hosted morning talk show, that discusses student-life on the Penn State campus, along with other social aspects ranging from entertainment to sports.
  • The Jazz Spectrum (9AM-11AM) is a show that features a wide variety of jazz music.
  • The Nooner (Weekdays 11AM-1PM) is a show featuring a wide collection of 80's and 90's new wave and pop music combined with alternative rock.
  • State Your Face (Weekdays 1PM-5PM) is a classic rock show featuring rare and live cuts from some of the famous bands in classic rock such as The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Grateful Dead.
  • Radio Free Penn State (Weekdays 5PM-6PM) is a public affairs talk show that focuses on topical issues relating to students at Penn State as well as concerns of the surrounding State College and Centre County communities. Occasionally, national issues have been covered during interviews of high-profile guests, such as Dinesh D'Souza, and Members of the US Congress.
  • The Sports Blitz (Weekdays 6PM-7PM) is a talk-show hosted by a variety of students focusing on both Penn State and national sports (particularly football, basketball and baseball). The Sportsblitz also provides play-by-play of all home Penn State football games and select home basketball games.
  • Indie 500 (Weekdays 7PM-9PM) focuses on independent artists and labels, and any music considered under the umbrella of "indie rock."
  • Jam 91 (Monday-Thursday 9PM-11PM, Friday-Sunday 9PM-1AM) is an urban/hip-hop show.
  • The Metal Machine (Monday-Thursday 11PM-3AM) a late-night show that features a wide variety of music from the metal genre.
  • Lion in Bed (State Your Face) (Monday-Thursday 3AM-5AM)

Weekend Programming

  • The Classical Hour (Weekends 7AM-9AM) is a morning program that features a wide array of Classical Music from Medieval to 21st century. Each show is based on a different theme that connects the music together.
  • Kumekucha (Saturdays 9AM-11AM)
  • Totally Gospel (Sundays 9AM-11AM)
  • Latin Mix (Weekends 11AM-1PM)
  • Homegrown Music Show (Weekends 1PM-3PM)
  • On The Good Foot (Friday-Sunday 3PM-5PM) is a funk/soul show that comes under the jurisdiction of the State Your Face staff.
  • Indie 500 (Weekends 5pm-7pm)
  • RPM (Weekends 7PM-9PM) RPM features dance, house, electronica, ambient and lounge stylings.
  • Jam 91 (Friday-Sunday 9PM-1AM)
  • Avant Garde (Friday-Sunday 1AM-5AM) hosted by "Cosmic" Ray Cromie. Avante Garde seeks to highlight less-frequently featured musical stylings and unique spoken word.

Previous Shows

  • Rockin' Culture Show (Weekdays 11am-1pm) was a program that featured alternative rock.
  • The Wake-Up Call with Burnie Thompson (Weekdays 7AM-8AM) hosted by Burnie Thompson was a feature program that discussed Penn State University, politics and social matters from a libertarian perspective.
  • Rush Hour
  • Lion In Bed was a short-lived morning show that aired on weekday mornings. Hosted by students, this show discussed general student concerns and life at college.
  • Let's Talk Penn State (Weekdays 1-3PM) was a very successful afternoon drive sports talk show hosted by two faculty members. They discussed Penn State sports.
  • Morningwood was another short-lived morning show that aired on weekday mornings discussing college life, hosted by students.
  • Bootycall (Sundays 11PM-1AM) was a weekly show devoted to discussion of student dating and relationships in a college environment.
  • Grateful Dead Hour (Sundays 1-2PM) was a syndicated show featuring some of the best from the Grateful Dead for Penn State deadheads.
  • Coffee & Cigarettes (Weekdays 7-9AM) was the first morning show on the station. Started by Jeff Ecker and Craig Shulz, it was an ensemble show that featured water-cooler talk of all kinds. Its slogan was "There is no better way to wake up in the morning than with Coffee & Cigarettes".
  • Rude Boy Reggae Hour (Tuesdays 9-11PM) was a roots/dancehall reggae show hosted by longtime friends Kip Talley and Jay-Boogie. Their wacky antics and diverse playlists quickly made this show a hit.

Technical Information

  • Station Status: Licensed Class A Non-Commercial FM Station
  • Effective Radiated Power: 100 Watts
  • Height above Avg. Terrain: 26 meters (85 feet)
  • Height above Ground Level: 39 meters (128 feet)
  • Height above Sea Level: 411 meters (1349 feet)
  • Antenna Pattern: Non-Directional
  • Transmitter Location: 40°47'58" N, 77°52'11" W
  • License Granted: February 14, 1995
  • License Expires: August 1 2014

See also

External links


  1. ^ "Special Collections Library: Senior Class Gifts". Penn State University Archives. May 4, 2005. http://www.libraries.psu.edu/speccolls/psua/psgeneralhistory/classgifts/clas1950.htm.  
  2. ^ WPSU (December 30, 2006). "Penn State Public Broadcasting History". WPSU TV/FM. http://www.wpsu.org/about/history.html.  
  3. ^ CDT (February 22, 2005). "Penn State Radio". Centre Daily Times. http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/special_packages/150_years/10961654.htm.  
  4. ^ "WEHR - About East Halls Radio.". December 28, 2006. http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/wehr/about.htm.  
  5. ^ David Schonfeld (October 31, 1995). "New station delivers student focus". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/1995/10/10-31-95tdc/10-31-95d05-001.htm.  
  6. ^ Board of Opinion (September 4, 2001). "Student radio station must serve students". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/09/09-04-01tdc/09-04-01dops-edit.asp.  
  7. ^ Meghan Day (July 30, 2001). "College obtains station control". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/07/07-30-01tdc/07-30-01dnews-1.asp.  
  8. ^ Sarah Rothman (August 24, 2001). "Radio station changes hands, names manager". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/08/08-24-01tdc/08-24-01dnews-3.asp.  
  9. ^ Mike Walsh (April 26, 2003). "The Lion Riot". The Lion 90.7FM. http://www.thelion.fm/archives/audio/theLIONriot.mp3.  
  10. ^ Holly Rosene (April 26, 2004). "University cuts The Lion's funds". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2004/04/04-26-04tdc/04-26-04dnews-12.asp.  
  11. ^ "Radio station funding: UPAC should support WKPS-FM radio". The Daily Collegian. December 5, 2006. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2006/12/12-05-06tdc/12-05-06dops-edit-01.asp.  
  12. ^ Billy Wellock (January 17, 2007). "Adviser dies from allergic reaction". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2007/01/01-17-07tdc/01-17-07dnews-09.asp.  
  13. ^ Kevin Horan, Matthew Spolar (December 1, 2006). "WKPS-FM asks board for more funds". The Daily Collegian. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2006/12/12-01-06tdc/12-01-06dweb-01.asp.  

Coordinates: 40°47′58″N 77°52′11″W / 40.79944°N 77.86972°W / 40.79944; -77.86972


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