Celebrating 35 Years of College Radio

By Chris Waide
November 20, 2020

Have you ever listened to the radio and wondered how the DJ got their job? Chances are the station did not hire somebody right off the street. Many DJs earn a degree in Communications. Even Howard Stern started his career as a college student. However, college stations are not exclusively for students pursuing Communications degrees. Even for those not pursuing a career in communications, a stint on college radio can be fun and rewarding, and some might even argue that being part of college radio can be a crucial part of the college experience.

Genesee Community College has Communications and Media Arts programs. The campus has a television station, as well as an editing studio with advanced technology and software available for students to use. Many of the sporting events are filmed and live streamed by students in those classes. And if you have ever been to a campus event with music, chances are good the DJs were from the GCC Radio Club.

The college’s station, WGCC “The Music F.M.” has state-of-the-art equipment and broadcasts twenty-four hours a day. When students are not at the helm, it follows a program that not only plays the music, but also broadcasts the legal ID at regular intervals, and automatically adheres to any other applicable FCC regulations. Because every student is in charge of formatting their own show, the musical taste of the station is impossible to define and could change dramatically from hour to hour.

This month marks the thirty-five-year anniversary of the station’s debut. The signal can be picked up as far away as Warsaw, Attica, and Rochester. Students may take the station for granted, but its existence was a far cry from certain in the early eighties. The entire process took six years to accomplish. Besides getting the license and paying for the equipment (which totaled well over forty thousand dollars), they also had to contend with various conflicting interests.

According to news clippings from The Daily News, Batavia’s local newspaper, a religious group from California had also been seeking to broadcast on the 90.7 frequency. There was also a matter of the Coast Guard having the call letters WGCC assigned to an old ship. And as if that were not enough, the Canadian government was concerned that the station might interfere with their own stations. The college had to wait several months for a Canadian group to finish their study. The college then hired a company from Philadelphia to install the antenna, and finally WGCC hit the airwaves the morning of November 13, 1985. The first song played was Phil Collins’ Against All Odds.

Today, the station remains open to all students who wish to have a radio show, though that could change depending on state guidelines and local conditions. Safety precautions are taken due to Covid-19. These precautions include distancing and cleaning the equipment between users. Any interested students should contact Professor Barry Chow (email bcchow@genesee.edu). The campus radio station has thrived for over thirty-five years, surviving threats like The Great Recession and our current pandemic. For now, it seems our local radio station will endure in the same fashion it began, against all odds.