In 1968 Elvis was preparing for his first television special. His Richmond, VA concerts would come several years later. Color television programs had been broadcast on all three networks for only the third year. The Vietnam War was heating up and an all male school known as VPI (Virginia Tech today) had finally opened its doors to women.

During the summer of 1968, a momentous change took place in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond Professional Institute began a transformation that would change it from a college campus of about 10,500 students, to a national university with over 30,000 students. Virginia Commonwealth University  known widely today as VCU, has earned many honors and recognitions since 1968, including having an undefeated football team for over 40 years! Quite a feat to accomplish in college football these days. Remember when Miss Emily Litella on a Saturday Night Live promo called us "Virginia CommonHEALTH University"? Oh, nevermind.

On September 10, 2008 we celebrated the 40th anniversary of VCU and WJRB, the beginning of the 1968 fall semester. Like good Richmonders and Virginians, we are here to remember a long forgotten group of individuals that toiled seven days a week and late in to the night, to provide companionship and entertainment to thousands of VCU students. Most likely, these future station members were not aware that a student run radio station operated at VCU as a "student activity" club. Students came from engineering, business, theater, art and other degree programs. We were all drawn to the basement of the Student Center at 916 W. Franklin Street. The destination was simply called, WJRB - the Voice of VCU.

916 W. Franklin St. home to WJRB radio and the VCU Student Center circa 1972

WJRB-AM was a student run radio station and was supported by the Student Government Association and advertisers like the Copy Center, Lum's, Dutch's, the Village, the Biograph Theatre and Kelly's. Most people may think of campus radio (also known as college radio, university radio or student radio) as an FM station. It appears that WJRB started in the fall of 1967. Back then there was an option known as "carrier current" broadcasting. Using a very low power AM transmitter (something like 5 watts), a radio signal could be sent through the electrical wires in a building to our listening audience. As it turns out, our audience consisted of students living in some of the dorms mostly located on Franklin Street and Shafer Street. Also lucky diners in Hibbs and Temple cafeterias (Temple being the site today of the Singleton Center) could listen during meal times. If you were lucky enough to have a car and lived off-campus, you could sometimes hear WJRB at the stop lights as far away as Lombardy Street or further (depending upon the weather and which engineer had been working on the transmitters).

In the late 60's and early 70's college radio was a unique proving ground for future announcers, engineers, and production professionals. College radio also was pushing the envelope of radio broadcasting with its experimental radio format. The format used was not based upon a single format (pop, top 40, country, etc.) but a collection of formats that reflected the many backgrounds of the students attending the school and the diversity of bands that were recording at the time. Albums received extensive air play and made up more and more of the play lists.
 

 Original station logo that was used to stamp records and just about everything else.


WJRB
continued breaking out of the standard format of our "parents' radio stations" and created a home for the "new" music that would never get commercial air play (at least back then). Thus UGLY was born in the basement of 916 featuring progressive music from the underground.

Many of the WJRB staff members became radio professionals (sometimes while in still in school)working locally and nationally. Our Honor Roll includes station members and the stations where they worked.

Photo illustration of what the main entrance to the station looked like circa 1972.

Over the years the basement space was rearranged in multiple ways but generally consisted of an outside entrance (to allow us 24 hours access, an office area, engineering room, a studio and a lounge area. Nicer furniture and drink machines resided on the first floor of the building. The all important bathrooms were also conveniently located on the first floor. Convenient if the bathrooms were free and you had a long record to play like McArther Park, Hey Jude or In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida depending upon your needs.

Today the  station lives on as WVCW, located on West Broad Street near the old Adams Barber Shop. We encourage you to check them out at WVCW.ORG.

While this Web site focuses mainly on the years from 1967 to 1975, we would love to fill in the blanks as additional members from WJRB find us and can share their experiences, photos and audio clips. We would also like to hear from our former listeners. Lines are open, call now at extension 7370... or better yet, just send us an email.

Thanks to everyone who submitted content. We couldn't have done it without you! If you find something in your scrapbook that you would like to share, please .


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This Web site is not connected in any way with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)
except that a few hundred of us went there as students. This site does not express any views but our own.
This site does NOT represent the administration, faculty, student body or WVCW at VCU.
You can learn more about VCU and the past 40 years at the VCU 40th Anniversary Web site.

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