There was much excitement on campus when WPRK was launched on December 8, 1952. Though it was not the College’s first radio venture (WDBO began at Rollins in the 1920s), it was celebrated as a new beginning. The first broadcast opened with the Chapel Choir singing the “Alma Mater;” this was followed by a speech from Rollins President Hugh McKean and a recorded message from U.S. President-elect Dwight Eisenhower.
Pres. McKean began his remarks by saying, “I must tell you frankly I am very excited. I am excited about Rollins College having this radio station, and I am excited about this community sharing it with us.” He continued:
“Education is not something which colleges do exclusively to young people. It does not stop with a diploma. It is an adventure in new ideas; it is growth of the spirit; it is development of personality and character. Rollins is an institution dedicated to raising the spiritual and intellectual level of all those it can serve through education. WPRK will let Rollins College bring education to many it could not otherwise reach–it broadens our field. That is exciting.”
Dwight Eisenhower, elected to office the month before, sent his congratulations and spoke of Rollins’ former president, Hamilton Holt, and Holt’s belief in the importance of education to a free, democratic society. Pres. Eisenhower said, “No power in this world can compete with the power of an idea,” and cited WPRK as a new venue for Rollins to share ideas with its listeners. (To hear Pres. Eisenhower’s full message to Rollins, please click here.)
Guests at the first broadcast were also given a tour of the new radio facilities. Below are some photos of WPRK’s first days, from the 1953 Tomokan yearbook.
Almost 60 years have passed since Pres. Eisenhower and Pres. McKean spoke to WPRK’s first listeners about the power of ideas–six decades of innovative, independent programming. Congratulations, WPRK!
~ by D. Moore, Archival Specialist