An overview of the happenings at WSSR/WSSU/WUIS during the last 30 years.
The year was 1975; the Vietnam War came to an end at last. Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa was reported missing. American astronaut Tom Stafford and Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov exchanged the first international handshake in space. The movie Jaws kept beach combers close to shore.
While some of the transitions to new formats brought challenges as well as more than a few headaches, each change has enabled the station to improve the transmission and audio quality of the programming delivered. As for anticipated technological advances heading our way in the next 30 years, Dunn says we haven’t seen anything yet. And before retiring in 2005 after 25 years at WUIS, he set the stage for WUIS’ next technological advance – digital conversion.
For 20 of the last 30 years, classical music enthusiasts have welcomed the soft and quiet demeanor of WUIS host Karl Scroggin. The calming tenor (more of a baritone, really) of his voice, coupled with the encyclopedic detail in which he can discuss his musical selections, has earned both Karl and WUIS widespread respect throughout the classical music community.
It was a new adventure in communication, a novel thought. This thing called public radio meant exactly that: radio that belonged to and was partially financed by the public. Long before “interactive” entered the national lexicon public radio had been calling upon its listeners to interact, to be actively involved with and support the programs they listened to.
The Radio Information Service flickered to life as a fully-funded service of WUIS in December 1981, becoming the first official radio reading service for the print disabled in central Illinois. Over past 24 years the service has evolved into an essential source of programming and information for the visually impaired community.
In 2001, the multi-million selling soundtrack “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” attracted huge audiences for bluegrass and traditional country music. It was a pop culture moment that opened up the genre to listeners who eagerly welcomed this high energy all acoustic sound. According to the International Bluegrass Music Association, since 2000, bluegrass music has experienced a 104% increase in consumers and a growth in popularity unprecedented in recent bluegrass history.
In 1974 Rich Bradley was 34 years old and considering what he saw as the opportunity of a lifetime. A 14-year veteran radio news reporter, Rich had become increasingly frustrated with commercial radio’s dwindling commitment to delivering substantive news.
It all began with a friend of a friend. Dave Leonatti had been thinking about checking into the possibility of hosting a program on what was then WSSR Radio. He mentioned the idea to friend who happened to know someone who was connected to this relatively young public radio station.
While the programs, the events, and the voices have changed over the past 30 years, the indelible impression of WSSR, WSSU, and WUIS on many who have passed through the station remain. To all of you … “Thanks for the memory.”