Barry McNamara  |   Published September 28, 2015

Launch party for Monmouth College’s new radio station set for Oct. 2

MONMOUTH, Ill. — To celebrate its new FM radio station, WPFS 105.9, Monmouth College will host an on-air launch party on Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon in the newly-remodeled studio on the third floor of Wallace Hall. Free and open to the public, the event will coincide with national College Radio Day.

“My plan is to have numerous guests join me and the students on the air,” said communication studies instructor Chris Goble, who serves as the station’s adviser. “I’m inviting them to bring in a couple of their favorite songs for us to play and talk about.”

Guests will include WMOI’s Jack Toal, City of Monmouth director of community development Paul Schuytema and Buchanan Center for the Arts director Kristyne Gilbert Bradford, a 1990 Monmouth graduate. Also in the studio will be Monmouth president Clarence Wyatt and First Lady Lobie Stone. Wyatt will host his own show, “The Playlist,” on WPFS.

“On each show, I’ll have a member of the faculty or staff bring in three songs of their choice, play them, and talk about what is special about these songs for them,” said Wyatt, who grew up 60 miles from Nashville and has fond memories of listening to radio shows from the Grand Ole Opry with his father. “I’ll do the same, but with one or two songs each show. I’ve always loved all kinds of music. I couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles, but I have music on all day as I work.”

Goble said it is starting to dawn on his students that their audience will reach beyond campus borders.

“This is the first full-blown transmitting station in the college’s history,” said Goble, who said the 100-watt transmitter, which is generally used by non-profits, churches and colleges, is designed to reach 5-6 miles from campus. “I’ve heard reports that we can be heard close to Roseville and Galesburg, and I’ve heard it clearly nearly all the way to Viola. This is such an exciting opportunity for the students to actually broadcast to the community.”

Goble said the station’s new call letters stand for “Proud Fighting Scots,” which is based on the original 1961 name, WFS. The station changed its name to WMCR in 1970, and officially began broadcasting as WPFS in June. Goble would’ve opted to keep WMCR, but now that the station has been upgraded, there is already an officially-licensed WMCR in New York.

Because students were on summer break when FM transmission began, Goble said the station has been randomly playing selections from a 400-song list. That will change after the launch party, when 25 to 30 students will begin their own regular shows.

Although plans are still in the works, Goble said other regular programming figures to include rebroadcasts of lecturer’s Robin Johnson’s political talk show on KBUR and the college’s weekly chapel service, as well as a show by local alumni band, the Brooks Brothers, who’ll talk about their life in music. Tentative plans are to have such specialty shows air around the noon hour. WPFS will broadcast live through midnight most days, with some programming running as late as 2 a.m.

“The programs will all be different, and the students will be able to decide what they want to do and what they want to play,” said Goble. “They’ll be unique creations, and there’ll be no regularity to the type of music we play all day. That’s what’s so fun about it for me.”

“This is an asset, not just for the campus, but for the community,” added Wyatt. “It’s one more way we can be of service to the local community.”

Goble also plans for the station to have a growing social media presence. Currently, the best place to find information about the station, and to stream it live, is http://dept.monmouthcollege.edu/wpfs/.

Monmouth College has a rich history with the medium of radio. Lon Helton, a 1972 graduate and host of “Country Countdown USA,” got his start in radio at Monmouth, as did longtime NBA broadcaster Joe Tait ’59 and Denver television personality Ed Greene’ 72. Steve Goss, who graduated in 1974, recently retired after a distinguished 36-year career on the airwaves in Atlanta.

Perhaps, if Goble calls in a favor or two, he can get some of those legends of the industry to record some voiceovers for the station: “From the top of the Wall, you’re listening to 105.9 FM, WPFS … Proud Fighting Scots radio.”
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