Princeton University’s radio station, WPRB, has for the most part been a frenetic hodgepodge where Beethoven plays alongside The Ramones and sports broadcasts back to back with national news. However, the radio station has also been the space where new bands get airplay, campus history is made, and revolutionary ideas are expressed without restraint. For 75 years, WPRB has facilitated creative and intellectual pursuits by serving as the delightful petri dish for the students that spin its turntables.
In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the exhibition “WPRB: A Haven for the Creative Impulse” showcases the impact of the college radio station on the Princeton campus and the entire nation.
A joint effort of the Princeton University Archives and WPRB’s educational advisor, Mike Lupica, the exhibition displays objects loaned from station alumni, the WPRB Station, and the Archives’ collections. From license plates to records, and even the original stereo control console, the items on display provide an inside look at the personalities and events of WPRB.
Topics addressed in the exhibition include the beginnings of the station as WPRU under founder Henry Theis, Class of 1942, and famous broadcasts including the 100-Hour broadcast, the 24 hour Christmas show, and the War of the Worlds’ production. With quotes and photographs of famous DJs and other radio personalities, the exhibition provides a visual element to the voices that listeners have heard for decades.
The variety of the records included, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Joy Division, Sun Ra, and Naughty by Nature reflect the diverse nature of the radio station and its effort to cater to wide tastes. As a whole, the exhibition portrays how despite the use of different technologies and the evolution of musical tastes over the years, WPRB kept its eclectic and soulful nature and remains one of Princeton’s great student organizations.
“This is a wonderful exhibition that showcases how the University Archives and a campus organization can mutually benefit one another,” said University Archivist Dan Linke. “Mike Lupica has done an incredible job putting together a stunning visual exhibition about what is an inherently aural activity–not an easy task. He pulled items from the WPRB Records held here at Mudd Library, as well as gathering material from the station and alumni. For me, the capstone is the original stereo console from the station that a community volunteer rescued from destruction in 1985 and who offered it to us just this summer as we were putting the finishing touches on the exhibition.”
“WPRB: A Haven for the Creative Impulse” is free and open to the public in the Wiess Lounge at the Mudd Manuscript Library, 65 Olden Street, through Reunions 2016. The exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. More information about the station’s DJs, objects in the station’s archives and other WPRB-related history is available at the WPRB history blog.
For more information about the exhibition, please email Mudd Library.