BC station marks more than 30 years of independence

By Clea Simon, Globe Correspondent, 9/12/2003

This month, Boston College's student-run station, WZBC-FM (90.3), has decided to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The planned festivities -- a multiple-club party on Sept. 20 that will bring several bands to the Middle East and T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge -- showcase the station's devotion to independent rock. But neither this party nor the students who currently man the boards for shows like ''No Commercial Potential'' reveal the whole story.

For starters, the station is really older than 30. The original WZBC started as a campus-only, closed-circuit production in the late '60s. It was in 1973, however, that the college upped the little station's power to a full 1,000 watts. ''That's when we first could be heard in Boston, outside the campus,'' explains Hannah Nolan-Spohn, one of the undergraduates who works with the all-volunteer staff of students, alumni, and community members. In many ways, Nolan-Spohn, who now serves as the station's general manager, is typical of the folks who have spent those years programming music never heard on the city's commercial music stations. The BC junior volunteered as an intern in her first week on campus. Like many of the students who volunteer, Nolan-Spohn isn't focusing her education on broadcasting. ''I'm an environmental science major,'' she says, adding that radio ''is mostly something I do for fun. Plus, it's really good experience in terms of management.''

And the experience can reach even further. Petrina Katsikas, for example, graduated from BC in 1992. She had majored in elementary education, but after graduation took a job at WGBH-FM. Now Katsikas works in creative services on WGBH's television side, creating promotional videos.

''It's really worked out really well,'' says Katsikas, who still hosts a two-hour show on WZBC (Thursdays 5 to 7 p.m.) and works on the station's programming committee. ''I love having radio as my hobby,'' she says. ''I never became a teacher, but at least I'm in educational television!''

For Herb Scannell, group president of MTV networks, that college-radio experience determined the course of his life. ''It was the best thing I did at college and ultimately influenced my career path,'' says the 1979 grad, who served as WZBC's general manager in 1978. ''We had the time of our lives,'' he says. ''And I always hoped that I could re-create that passion, camaraderie, sense of purpose, and adolescent fun in a real job in the real world.''

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company

 

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