Party! WMLN Celebrates 40th Anniversary

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misreported that the Alumni House event Friday evening will be open to students. 

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // APRIL 14, 2015 //

The Curry College radio station will be on the air this Friday, as it is every day throughout the calendar year. That means someone will be missing out on a killer party.

This Friday, April 17, the college is hosting an alumni event in honor of the 40th anniversary of WMLN-FM 91.5. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Hafer Parent’s Lounge with a meet-and-greet for radio practicum students and Curry alumni. Other events include an Alumni committee panel at 4:30, open to all students, and a faculty, admin and alumni event from 6-8 p.m. in the Alumni House. The station will also be open throughout the day for tours and viewings.

Signs of a promising future for WMLN began with its licensing in 1975, transitioning from an AM to an FM station with a capability of reaching listeners up to a 30-mile radius. The station launched in 1970 as an AM operation, WVAC 640. Four years later, it moved into a new building—which remains its current home.

PHOTO FROM 1976 CURRY YEARBOOK, CURRYER.

PHOTO FROM 1976 CURRY YEARBOOK, CURRYER.

In 1977, Professor Alan Frank was hired as the director of radio, a position he has held ever since.

“I came [to Curry] and I was hired to restructure and build the program and eventually make it co-curricular,” says Frank. “Whatever you find out in real-world radio, you find here.”

WMLN, which is also live-streamed online, has won 40 Associated Press awards between 1988 and 2014. Most notable of the awards is the title “New England College Station of the Year,” in 1992.

“We had stiff competition, and here we are, little Curry College, winning all these awards,” says Frank. “That speaks not just to the program but to the quality of kids we have had over the years.”

“I think winning the Massachusetts Associated Press Award for best college radio station was a great honor,” says Gavin Spittle, a 1993 Curry graduate who is now vice president of News/Talk/Sports for CBS Radio in Dallas/Fort Worth. “My news station…still wins AP awards and I still have that same feeling.”

Even before there was WMLN 40 years ago, Curry had a robust student-run radio station, albeit AM. // PHOTO FROM 1973 CURRY YEARBOOK

Even before there was WMLN 40 years ago, Curry had a robust student-run radio station, albeit AM. // PHOTO FROM 1973 CURRY YEARBOOK

Students and alumni of WMLN say the hands-on nature of the station is what makes it so great.

“All those programs helped me understand many sides of radio,” says Dan Mazella, a 2009 graduate who was station manager his final two years on campus. He now works as a traffic reporter for iHeart Media, and also is on-air for Rock 101 in New Hampshire. “From music to cohosting to producing…it guided me when I started working in commercial radio because there were many times I had to wear many hats. When you go to intern or even work in the field, you already have an idea of how things can go.”

Many students involved with Curry radio are enjoying careers in the field, including 2013 graduate Matt Fitzgerald, who now works as a news anchor for Boston Herald Radio, and Sydney Lowe, a 1998 Curry graduate and the senior manager of on-air promotion scheduling at MLB Network in Secaucus, N.J.

“You don’t know what the future will bring,” says Lowe, “but you just keep doing what you love and hope that it pays off in the end—both literally and figuratively.”

Alumni say one of the great values of the station, which is almost entirely student-run—from management and operations to on-air programming—is the opportunity to work with other students from around the campus.

The student-produced and operated radio station features both music and talk. Junior communication major Chris Haskell works the mic during an afternoon session. // PHOTO BY NICK IRONSIDE

The student-produced and operated radio station features both music and talk. Chris Haskell, now an alumnus, works the mic during an afternoon session two years ago. // PHOTO BY NICK IRONSIDE

“WMLN not only helped me prepare for my radio career, but also helped me understand how to work with people in radio,” says Mazella. “You are working with a lot of creative minds and you need to be able to adapt and base your ideas off theirs.”

“I think the other aspect that is underrated is the camaraderie that you build with fellow students,” says Spittle. “I loved that I was able to get my hands dirty at the radio station during my freshman year. I needed as many reps as I could get. Other colleges didn’t offer that and that’s why I chose Curry. I got to pursue my dream, met some lifelong friends, and got to play tennis at the collegiate level. WMLN is a lab and I needed to be a ‘lab rat’ to become what I am today.”

Sophomore communication major Shelbi Chandler, host of “The Amibros” radio show Tuesday evenings from 9-11, agrees. “We are encouraged to do and figure things out for our own, but [Professor Frank] is always around to help.”

As for what’s in store for the future, Frank is nothing but optimistic. “[WMLN] has sustained itself for the last 40 years, and I am delighted.”

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