Celebrating 90 Years of Curry Radio

By Currier Times Staff///

Curry’s radio major, the oldest in the country, began on November 9, 1932. Early classes were held in the school’s building on Commonwealth Avenue when Curry was known as the “School of Expression.” Archive photo

Curry’s Communication department celebrated a milestone on November 9, 2022–the 90th anniversary for their groundbreaking Radio major, the oldest radio major in the country. To commemorate this event, radio students, COM faculty and radio alums gathered together for a live broadcast on WMLN-FM 91.5, the college’s current radio station.

Click on the above audio link to listen to the “90th Anniversary of Curry Radio” broadcast that was recorded live on November 9, 2022. Guests include alums, Jordan Rich-WBZ; Bob MacNeil-Curry alum/professor; Tom Quinlan-WPRO; Marita MacKinnon-WBZ; Brandon Clay-WPOR; Jerry Gibbs-Curry COM Professor; Ken Carberry- Curry alum/Director of Radio; Ryan Franey; Curry radio student at WMLN
The original announcement in Curry’s course catalog announcing the start of the nation’s oldest radio major, on November 9, 1932. Archive photo

Back on November 9, 1932, an early Curry course catalog shows the college–known at the time as the “School of Expression” on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston–brought faculty and students to WLOE, a radio station broadcasting from the Hotel Bellevue, to have them recite passages from plays.

Hotel Bellevue, at 21 Beacon Street, was down the street from the Massachusetts State House. Today it is a luxury condo building and was once the residence for a young John F. Kennedy, who went on to become president of the United States.

According to the Curry catalog, a faculty member recited passages from the play, “The Jesters,” and the start of Curry’s long relationship with broadcasting began.

“You have to remember, these were pioneering days for radio,” said Jerry Gibbs, a Communication professor who has extensively researched Curry’s early years of broadcast education. “Even Boston’s WBZ radio was only 10 years old.”

From those humble beginnings, Curry has taught thousands of broadcasters who went on to become on air personalities, station managers, technical engineers and sales and marketing executives at broadcast stations from coast-to-coast.

By the 1950s and 60s, Curry’s radio major was becoming much larger, and when the college moved to Milton, Mass., a studio was built in the basement of what is now the Faculty Building on campus.

Alums, like recently retired professor, Bob MacNeil, remember broadcasting on the carrier-current station, WVAC, during their time here. Carrier-current on the AM dial could only be heard on campus through wiring in various buildings.

“WVAC’s call letters stood for The Voice at Curry,” said Professor MacNeil. “We took it seriously and it was a very professional operation.”

Roger Allan, a popular Boston broadcaster, taught many of the radio classes during that era, and would often call up a colleague in the business to give Curry graduates their first job. (Prof. Allan was featured in this video, produced for the 75th anniversary of the radio major.)

That success led to Curry obtaining an FCC license for an FM station, and in the mid-70’s, WMLN-91.5 FM was born. For the next 45 years, recently retired professor, Alan Frank, oversaw the operations. During Prof. Frank’s era, WMLN won some of the biggest awards in radio, including the Associated Press award for Best College Radio Station.

Today, WMLN remains a Boston area institution, with alums on air or behind the scenes in virtually every major city in America. Current radio director, Professor Ken Carberry, also a Curry alum, says it is a testament to the great professors over the decades that this small college has had such a significant national impact.

Professor Ken Carberry (left), now the Director of Radio at Curry, sits with radio student, Ryan Franey, as they broadcast the “90th Anniversary of Curry Radio” show on November 9, 2022 in the studios of WMLN-FM on campus.

So, what does the future hold? Today, WMLN is heard worldwide just by asking your smart speaker to play the station. And a beautiful new Podcast studio has been built, tying into the idea that people listening to other people–and learning their stories–will never go away.

Happy 90th Curry Radio! And here’s to 90 more years of success!

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