History of St.
for a college radio station at St. Bonaventure first took shape about 95
years ago. In 1916, under the guidance of Stephen Donovan, of the
school’s Science department, the idea became reality when the United
States Government granted an operating license to St. Bonaventure
College that would last only 2 years. As of a result of World War II
the college was unable to renew their license. It wasn’t until 1947
when the idea for a college radio station reemerged. Reverend Giles
Webster oversaw a program entitled Bona News Show, a fifteen minute
class room production made up of different students. Some students
involved in the program had expressed interest in developing a new
campus radio station. Rev. Webster was able find a 5 watt transmitter
in local Olean, New York, meanwhile a station manager and staff was hand
chosen from members of the campus. Thus, the first student run
organization was born at St. Bonaventure College. In 1947 it was highly
original to have a group of students organize, govern themselves, and
basically run the show.
Fr. Banks O.F.M.
and company working at the radio station.
Monday November 22, 1948 at 8:15 p.m. WSBC went on the air for the first
time. Located in what was originally intended to be a pigeon loft in
Alumni Hall, the radio station was dedicated and blessed by
Father Thomas Plassmann OFM
and Reverend Giles Webster. Constantly inundated by a lack of space and
a transmitter that frequently broke, the radio station was only able to
be on the air for two hours per day. Several months later the radio
station changed its name from WSBC to WOFM, standing for Orders of the
Friars Minor. That same day, the St. Bonaventure radio station joined
what is known as the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, a nonprofit
organization that put together monetary resources in order to support
common college radio problems.
1950s started with what might have been the end of St. Bonaventure’s
radio station. Father Francis Sullivan had increased the studio’s
capabilities by getting rid of the 5 watt transmitter and building his
own 15 watt transmitter. Plus, the record label and phonograph
manufacturer RCA offered the school a new consolette, two refurbished
turntables, and a tape recorder for roughly $1000, which the station
could pay for over the course of the next two years. Things took a turn
for the worst when an employee of the Federal Communications Commission
was driving through the Olean are and realized the college radio station
was broadcasting at 15 watts , which was beyond the 5 watt limit they
had originally been allotted. The agent went to the station and
informed them the station was breaking the law and must cease their
operations immediately. By broadcasting at 15 watts they were
interfering with other stations, also they kept no log of programs, and
had never been licensed by the FCC.
blessing the radio station.
October of 1952, plans were drafted in an attempt to get WOFM back on
the airwaves. Dubbed by students and faculty as "Operation
Transmission" they hoped to move the station to a new home in the press
box at Forness Stadium.
By February of 1954 the operation was complete and WOFM was back on the
air broadcasting 5 days a week, 7 hours per day in facilities that
included two studios, a control room with two turntables, and a homemade
transmitter. There stay in the press box, however, would be very
short-lived. By March of 1958 they moved to a new home at one of
the surplus army barracks near
Butler Gymnasium. New equipment included United Press
teletype machine and 500 feet of wires to link the transmitter around
1964 the construction of
Robinson-Falconio Hall, the school was forced to demolish the
barracks and move the radio station back into Butler Memorial Gymnasium.
It was around this time that a long-standing Bona Radio tradition began:
The Merry Christmas Melody Marathon. Remembered as just simply
MCMM by many, the fundraiser allowed college students to spend time with
underprivileged children and provide them home with new clothes, toys,
and food. In 1967 WOFM moved from the basement of Butler to room
210 upstairs in the brand new $3.7 million dollar University Center,
known today as the Reilly
Center. The radio station was happy to be in the new building
surrounded by campus activities and events. The station that was
built for them in "the RC" is still in use today. The 1970s saw
more transmitter problems that forced the station off the air for
several weeks. Fortunatley, the station was able to broadcast
their signal through Channel 10 Allband Cablevision in Olean while
tending to technical difficulites here on campus.
'77 wearing a WOFM shirt, before the switch to the WSBU moniker.
1972 they became one of ten college radio stations to join the United
News Service or UNS, which supplied the station with news feeds and
clips weekly. Other colleges involved included Brockport,
Fredonia, Oneonta, and Stony Brook. Things were looking up for the
station when another long-standing dream came true: broadcasting on the
FM dial. According to station manager, Dominic Genova, hopes were
that broadcasting on FM would provide the community with more viable
service and allow students working there to get experience in a "more
professional atmosphere." Following numerous applications and
multiple fundraisers, no additional hurdles stood in front of the radio
crew and the project was complete. In April of 1975 the station
received formal permission to broadcast on the FM dial. Because of
a radio station in Kentucky broadcasting under the moniker WOFM, their
name was changed to WSBU. They began broadcasting from 88.3 FM
band and the rest was history, or so they thought.
FCC decided that by January 1, 1980 all stations operating at 10 watts
or less would be removed from the airwaves. Since WSBU was
broadcasting at only 10 watts they realized they would be removed
completely from the airwaves unless they were able to purchase a 100
watt transmitter. Fortunately they were able to secure funds by
throwing parties at the local bars in Allegany and ensure that the
station did not go off the air. Around this same time, the long
standing event, MCMM, was put to rest indefinitely. In 1984, WSBU
became only the 3rd college radio station in the nation affiliated with
CNN radio. As a result, they received hourly newscasts, as well as
enternainment and sports features. Within the following year, WSBU
began a new line of news coverage entitled 'Seven Days Magazine' that
recapped worldwide news as well as community and campus information.
They also switched to AP news wire service that same year based on
Bernard '90 talking on air.
The new radio station within the Reilly Center.
of 1992 brought the decision to keep the radio station on the air during
student's Christmas vacation. The staff brought in local BOCES
students to run the station, offering them hands-on experience and
opportunities they might not otherwise have been afforded. Four
years later in 1996 the station was officially branded as "88.3 The
Buzz". The station also made its first attempt at a website,
wsbu.fm.net let people listen all over the globe with one listener all
the way in Russia! The story was picked up by the Buffalo News
saying that Bona Radio was now "broadcasting" in Russia.
This was the same year that the radio station also began their Hall of
Fame to honor those who had made worthy contributions to the success of
the radio station. By the fall of 1997, WSBU was now the 7th best
college radio station throughout all of the nation.
WSBU tradition emerged around this time: the printed magazine. In
October of 1998, Matthew Holota and Alexis Weider brought 'The Buzz
Beat' to campus readers. By 2001, 'The Buzz Beat' had transformed
into 'The Buzzworthy', which has existed on campus at least up until
2011. 'The Buzzworthy quickly grew from a small four page
publishment, to a full-fledged, 20 page magazine printing multiple
issues per month. Eventually with the launch of
www.wsbu.net , 'The Buzzworthy' was
available online as well as a live broadcast of the station. Also,
just as rock had been given a face-lift at WSBU, so did hip-hop.
Thanks to the hard work of some new directors, Hip Hop weekends became a
stand-out feature of WSBU. Music libraries were updated, and so
were DJ time slots so that the most popular DJ's had the best weekend
time slots for their shows. On August 20, 2007, Public Relations
Director Stephanie Nikolaou released a press release stating that WSBU-FM
88.3 The Buzz was officially ranked by the Princeton Review as the #1
College Radio Station in the Nation. At last, a dream almost 59
years in the making was true.
'The Buzzworthy' Magazine cover, Volume
11, Issue 3.
page was created by Alex Hennessy in History 419 Computer and Archival Skills
for Historians 2011 Spring Semester
Centanni, Joe. “ ‘It's In My Blood’ : The Story of Bonaradio.” J/MC capstone