|City||Upper Montclair, New Jersey|
|Broadcast area||Northern New Jersey|
|Slogan||"Montclair State's Underground Radio"|
|First air date||1966|
|Owner||Montclair State University|
WMSC is an alternative rock college radio station located at and owned by Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, United States. WMSC broadcasts at 90.3 MHz. WMSC is operated by the students of Montclair State University.
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WMSC was founded in 1966 as WVMS, "The Voice of Montclair State", by a group of Montclair State College students.
The Voice of Montclair State was founded with the vision of becoming another way for student outreach to Montclair State students and the communities surrounding the college. MSC was primarily a commuter college with on-campus housing for only about 25% of its 1966 student population. Most of the commuters and off-campus housing students left the campus at the end of their classes and seldom returned to participate in the wide variety of campus activities available. A commuter student from Clifton, New Jersey, Ed Helvey, felt that a college-based FM radio station could help better connect the commuter and off-campus students with their campus. Mr. Helvey's interest in broadcast communications began as a young teenager when he became a licensed amateur radio operator. In his freshman year, he founded the Montclair State Amateur Radio Society and then, during his sophomore year, began a campaign to build interest in creating a college broadcast radio station.
By the second semester of his junior year Ed Helvey had recruited a core group of more than 25 students who became the foundation of The Voice of Montclair State. Mr. Tete Tetens, Jr., an Education professor and coincidentally, a broadcast engineer licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who worked part-time for WPAT at its Clifton, NJ AM transmitter site, became the faculty adviser. Additionally, Mr. Helvey had the support of Miss Emma Fantone, Coordinator, and Mr. Ted Sheft, Associate Coordinator, of the Audio-Visual Center. They provided the initial studio space for the first WVMS studio in College Hall, the college administration building. Mr. Helvey gained the support of Dr. Thomas Richardson, President of the College, Erik Engel, president, John Van Emden, treasurer and the other officers and student representatives of the Student Government Association, Mr. Gary Leo, Director of Student Activities, the College Life Union Board and the Montclarion. The Voice of Montclair State was also the recipient of the funds raised by the 1966 annual MSC Carnival, providing seed money to get the organization launched. The Student Government Association granted The Voice of Montclair State's petition to be chartered as a Class A organization, which meant that it would receive annual funding from the student activity fees paid by every MSC student as did The Montclarion, the campus newspaper. This was the first new Class A chartered organization in over 20 years. Ed Helvey and his team of motivated fellow students accomplished a lot in a very short period of time.
Ed Helvey spent the summer of 1966 exploring the Educational FM channel allocations, working with a communication law firm and broadcast consulting engineers in Washington, DC, to find an available channel in the crowded New York metropolitan broadcast market. The fall 1966 semester found the members of The Voice of Montclair State working on programming ideas and schedules, acquiring equipment including several low power AM transmitters to be installed in MSC dormitories to launch an AM carrier-current station by the beginning of 1967. The transmitters were purchased new from Low Power Broadcasting, Inc., while most of the other studio gear was purchased used, including the original Western Electric broadcast console. The station operated from 6AM until midnight seven days a week during the regular semester. Programming consisted of DJ shows spinning donated records, playback of "live" recorded concerts of campus musical organizations including the campus folk singing group, The Dirdy Birdies, interviews with student leaders, promoting campus activities and other programming of interest to the dormitory population and the few off-campus students who could receive the low power AM signal.
Although Ed Helvey worked diligently at locating an FM frequency for WVMS, it was just not in the cards at that time. Mr. Helvey was a senior and had to be off campus for six weeks to complete his student teaching requirement. Sadly, at the beginning of January 1967, his father died. He had some significant distractions. Fortunately, Mr. Helvey, who was the Chairman of the Board of The Voice of Montclair State, had a dedicated and motivated team of fellow students who carried the ball. The leadership of Les Anderson, Vice-Chairman; Barbara Faber, Business Manager; Wendy Burke, Recording Secretary; Ellen Connelly, Corresponding Secretary; George Steinmetz, Chief Engineer and the rest of the staff proved that WVMS and the Voice of Montclair State were on firm ground and had the capability of continuing after Ed Helvey and the other seniors on the staff would graduate in a few months.
Helvey's final contribution to WVMS was to negotiate an arrangement with WFMU, the FM campus radio station of Upsala College in East Orange, N.J., to broadcast a 27-hour WVMS Marathon program over WFMU's station one weekend during the spring 1967 semester. Upsala College closed in 1995, however, WFMU is still on the air. Working with the engineers at WFMU, the WVMS engineering staff and the Bell Telephone Company, broadcast tieline division, all the technical arrangements were attended to. Other members of the WVMS staff solicited and gained the enthusiastic assistance and support of many organizations on the Montclair State campus to create 27 hours of continuous live programming that included a talent show, performances by various campus musical groups, interviews, a sports car rally and various other events that allowed the communities in northern New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area to learn what Montclair State College was all about and all of the community oriented activities that were available for their participation and enjoyment. When WVMS signed off and turned WFMU's transmitter back over, WVMS had put Montclair State College on the map a little more than it was before the Marathon, it had pulled together many campus organizations in a display of support and commitment and there was one triumphant, but very tired WVMS staff.
Launching The Voice of Montclair State and WVMS was an exciting and exhilarating experience for everyone involved and was one of the high points of most of the pioneering team's experiences at Montclair State College. While The Voice of Montclair State began as a dream, it is the product of a lot of dedicated people through the years since that small rag-tag group of pioneers launched it over 40 years ago. It was about nine years after the original AM carrier-current station went on the air that another group of pioneers finally acquired an FM frequency for the station. Ed Helvey's original dream had finally been realized. The station moved to 90.3 on the FM dial and the call letters were changed to WMSC.
In 1984 WMSC was moved to 101.5 in an FCC attempt to break up the "college band" on the FM dial. This lasted 10 years until 1994, when, in a controversial decision, the administration of MSC accepted a deal from WKXW Trenton (New Jersey 101.5) to move the station back to 90.3, where it remains today. WMSC broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the semester and slightly less often during school breaks.
Notable DJs and alumni
- Steve Covino (Class of 98) Radio & TV Personality
- Tom Kaminski, WCBS Chopper 880
- Dan Rice, WNBC-TV News 4 New York, Chopper 4
- Bob Williams, WKXW-FM (NJ 101.5)
- Chris Maget, Shadow/Metro Traffic, WCBS 880
- Nancy Reamy, Shadow/Metro Traffic, WNEW AM 1130
- Rodney Baltimore, Hot 105, Miami, Florida
- Mike Weinstein, Shadow/Metro Traffic, 1010WINS, WKXW-FM (NJ 101.5)
- John Henny, Club Or Die Ent
- Brian Jude, Film & Video Producer/Director/Writer