A few were from WCXU (“Xavier University of Cincinnati”), the closed-circuit, student-run station heard in campus buildings and dormitories in the 1950s and 1960s.
Most of the 50 people present at the 50e birthday dinner at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse on Saturday night – a year late, due to COVID-19 – worked at WVXU (“Voice of Xavier University”) long before the Jesuit school sold the station to public radio of Cincinnati in 2005.
They remembered how the small 10-watt station in the basement of Alter Hall gradually developed under fr. Lawrence Flynn at 6,500 watts in 1976.
Former Jay Adrick, a broadcasting engineer who helped the station switch from closed circuit to live broadcast, presented a PowerPoint on the station’s history. His photos included one of the late Harry Traynor, the first longtime student director and editor of WKRC-TV, making one of the first remote shows on campus in 1970-71, and a photo of the new audio console from 1967.
“All we got was used material, used material,” says Adrick.
Adrick explained how the station chose the WVXU call letters in 1970 because operators of the 105.1 FM station called WCXL (now WUBE) protested that WCXU would confuse Cincinnati listeners.
In the early 1970s, when no commercial station in Cincinnati wanted to broadcast XU basketball games, WVXU athletic director Tom Stevens made the games on the station.
Student DJs were playing rock and pop music in the 1970s. Iron Butterfly’s 17-minute “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was song # 1 (to play when the DJ needed a break in the bathroom). And when WVXU was playing “Play That Funky Music White Boy” by Wild Cherry, the DJ got a call from fr. Flynn who thought he heard a different F word in the title and the chorus.
Kathy Myers, former station manager, recounted working on Larry Ashcraft’s film LiveLine, and Steve Overbeck’s auto repair show. Gary Burbank’s former sidekick Kevin Wolfe on WLW-AM spoke about co-hosting Everyone cooks with Chef Jimmy Gherardi in front of a studio audience in the Herald Avenue building when a caller asked how to cook the squirrel.
Wolfe told the caller to make sure you leave the tail in place, so that you have something to hang on to when you fry it.
While part of Xavier University, WVXU was known to broadcast old-fashioned radio comedies and dramas, including X minus one, a half-hour sci-fi show from the 1950s. WVXU veterans noted that radio drama was part of the program in the very early 1970s, when Tom Flynn wrote and produced The Dutchman flying from space. Adrick played an excerpt from the series, which had been performed by several people in attendance on Saturday night.
The meeting began Friday night with a rally at Listermann Brewing on Dana Avenue across from campus. On Saturday, WVXU alumni toured the Xavier campus and current WVXU studios on Cincinnati Public Radio in the Crosley Telecommunications Building, 1223 Central Parkway, ahead of the Boathouse rally. The group visited the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting on Sunday.
I posted this birthday story last year, “Happy 50th Birthday to WVXU.” And here’s a link to the WVXU story on our website which includes audio clippings on the station by Adrick, Stevens, Read, and Larry Holt, the meeting organizers.
Cincinnati Public Radio only edits John Kiesewetter’s articles for style and grammar.