Listen Live Tomorrow Morning (Saturday January 9) from 10-11 a.m. EST
To the Crash on the Levee radio show with host, Jerry Treacy!
Hey, Everybody! Happy New Year!
The CD release party in Houston on December 30 was a magical experience. Many thanks to everyone who came out to make it so special and to all those everywhere who called, emailed, and sent cards and flowers to say congratulations and express well wishes for the new album—Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas—my beautiful new year’s baby.
I’m on the East Coast now in the township of Kearny, NJ where memorable scenes from the Sopranos were filmed, just across the river from NYC, and the town is quite quaint and still decorated for the holidays, a lovely atmosphere amidst which to work on the release, which I have been doing pretty much all day every day for days.
Last week, I enjoyed a live appearance on Big Kev’sRoots, Rock, Revolution show on WLVR in scenic Bethlehem, PA. We played songs from the new release and talked about the process of making the album, which was my idea thanks to the classical station I’ve been listening to in Houston most every morning. What I most like about what they do is that they bring composers and classical musicians on the air and, rather than having them perform live, the host plays a high-quality, fully representational recording of their music and then they embark on a captivating interview that usually ranges from some somewhat personal questions to questions about these artists’ approach to music much the way a writer, director, actor, or visual artist would get a chance, not to perform live but to speak intelligently about his or her work. Thanks, Big Kev, for embracing this novel perspective—I love it!
I’m looking forward to visiting Jerry Treacy on WFDU radio in Teaneck, NJ tomorrow morning from 10 - 11 a.m. EST. I’ve admired Jerry’s programming for several years now and have had the pleasure of being on his show at the historic Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) station and of having been introduced on stage in NYC by Jerry when I performed there a few years ago. I am honored to be a guest again on Crash on the Levee, and I hope that you will tune in for the NJ/NYC broadcast debut of Lone Star: Songs and Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas.
In the meantime, here is a brief excerpt from the WFDU site to give you a feel for Jerry’s show:
Jerry Treacy started working at WFDU in the early 90s as the host of Crash on the Levee, an eclectic and unique mix of weekend Music America. The program takes its title from the legendary “Basement Tapes” recordings from Bob Dylan and The Band, whose sessions were typical of the spontaneity and unbounded enthusiasm that Jerry has for the music. Although the listener can always count on hearing the latest singer-songwriters, the playlist covers the span of the folk, blues, country, Cajun and zydeco genres from its beginnings to the latest releases.
And, for those "readers" out there, here are some excerpts from WFDU's detailed “History” page that elucidate the fascinating saga of the behind the scenes “David and Goliath” battle that was waged throughout the 1960’s between New York University (NYU) and Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) over WFDU, whose antenna ended up on the Armstrong Tower in Alpine, NJ—the site of the word’s first FM radio transmitter built by “Major” Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio:
"On August 30th 1971 at 12 noon, WFDU-FM began broadcasting to the New York metro area and has maintained its eclectic, non-commercial approach to music programming not heard up the radio dial.
In the Spring of 1962 broadcasting began with the call letters WFDU-AM – The Voice of Fairleigh Dickinson University. We were able to go on air several hours a day broadcasting to the Commons during the day and to the dorms in the evenings. Our programming consisted of playing music, reading news from local newspapers, and occasionally interviewing a faculty member, politician or student." It was then thought that maybe FDU could have an FM station and be able to broadcast to commuting students as well as dorm students on all three New Jersey campuses.
A couple of months later a report came back that although there weren't any available FM stations in the area, there was one frequency that was allotted to the U.N. and never used for 10 years.
In 1963-64, the FCC decided to allow any educational institution to apply to use the 89.1MHz United Nations frequency.
A preliminary application was made after discussion with U.N. representatives. However, New York University (NYU) also had been working on an agreement with the U.N. for use of the channel. The FCC ruled that the U.N. could not “surrender its license to the channel without accepted, competitive applications.”
As of mid 1967, exhibits had been exchanged and a hearing was scheduled for October 17th. The NYU proposal stated that “NYU’s case is strong,” citing a “history of campus radio stations going back to the 1930’s and 1940’s” as well as a “communications curricula going back to the 1920’s.” It also noted that NYU is already geared up for FM operations. One of the most telling indicators that NYU was ready to play legal hard ball was NYU’s intention to call every single FDU witness (26 in all) for cross examination, at FDU’s time and expense, at a hearing scheduled for December 1967.
The FDU proposal stated that NYU and the Broadcast Bureau would oppose any FDU witnesses . . . The proposal also recommended that share-channel operations be discussed, noting that the Broadcast Bureau wondered why it hasn’t already been discussed and added that the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) dislikes fights between Universities.
In an article in the “Hudson Dispatch” (dated 9/29/67) Dean Marinus Galanti likened the battle of FDU versus NYU to that of David and Goliath. On November 17, 1967, representatives from FDU and NYU met to discuss the possibility of sharing the U.N. channel. This meeting was subsequent to one held between FDU’s President Fuller and NYU’s President Hester. They concluded that any decision would come from the students in charge of the project.
On October 7, 1968, FDU President Fuller sent a letter to the Board of Trustees summarizing the FM Proceedings. He noted that the share-time arrangement with NYU must be finalized by October 15th or the “operate every other day” plan would become the decision. President Fuller admitted that some students and alumni were taking “a hard line” and insisting that the case be appealed. He suggested that both FDU and NYU send a letter to the Commission indicating they agree not to appeal the case and will work toward a shared time agreement but noted that was unacceptable to NYU.
In the November 1968 “Monitor,” Vic Wheatman reported the first meeting concerning the shared-time decision was held October 25th. Counterparts from the two universities discussed a Monday-Wednesday-Friday and a month of Sundays schedule at each station. The plan would switch the days after one year. The basis for this arrangement was that both FDU and NYU would operate from the transmitter and tower to be erected on NYU’s University Heights campus. Ironically, FDU agreed to this plan, as opposed to using the Alpine Tower.
On November 7, 1968, the transmitter plan fell apart when NYU proposed building a tower at an estimated cost of $75,000.00 and suggested FDU pay a yearly rental fee of $30,000.00, meaning that in two and a half years, NYU would recoup its investment. FDU had gotten an estimate of $600.00 a year to use the Alpine Tower.
Another meeting was slated for Monday, November 18th. It was recommended that FDU decline the NYU transmitter offer and instead investigate two other possibilities, Alpine Tower or WJRZ’s antenna in Hackensack. However, by declining it was believed NYU would feel forced to appeal the share-time decision.
On January 22, 1969, a reply brief was filed with the FCC on behalf of NYU laying out its reasoning for its request of exclusive use of channel 206 and refuting matters raised by FDU in earlier proceedings.
On August 29, 1969, the FCC’s Review Board released its decision affirming the Examiner’s decision to order FDU and NYU to share the channel. The Board found no basis to prefer one applicant over the other and rejected NYU’s bid for exclusive use of the channel, while acknowledging that its share-time resolution was a novel outcome. This case was the first of its kind and became the basis for subsequent cases involving competing noncommercial educational applicants. The Board directed the parties to submit a written share-time agreement to the Board or face additional proceedings that would become the basis of a Board imposed arrangement. On May 25, 1970, the parties executed the Share-Time Agreement that is the basis of their operations today. The call letters “WFDU” were requested by Fairleigh Dickinson University on October 13, 1970 and were formally assigned by the FCC on November 25th.
There is an addendum to the story, one that explains how and why WFDU-FM ended up with the broadcasting hours they have. It was provided by Frank Murphy, a student at FDU, who also was involved in the creation of WFDU-FM.
He wrote, “Vic Wheatman, David West, Bob Stotts (the FDU Student Activities Director) and I worked on convincing the university that the FM license was a good idea. After getting the initial release of the frequency from the United Nations, the FCC declared that both applications (FDU and NYU) had merit and decided to “cut the baby in half” to be fair to both. When negotiations between student committees from both FDU and NYU were unable to reach agreement on broadcasting hours, the administration took over.”
Mr. Murphy recalls that NYU was adamant about having the weekday evening hours because they wanted programming that would reach “the largest possible audience of NYU students and alumni.” FDU felt that daytime hours would provide the “opportunity to do some academic programming (possibly airing courses) and the basis for courses structured around a possible communications curriculum. Add to this the willingness of NYU to give up the weekends, which opened up the possibility to broadcast FDU sports, it pretty much sealed the weekday daytime, full weekend time share deal for FDU.
Mr. Murphy also recalled discussion between FDU and NYU sharing a transmitter and said various options were explored, including the possibility of installing a transmitter antenna on the west tower of the George Washington Bridge. However, engineering challenges and a high rental fee quoted by the Port Authority, ended the idea. NYU opted to locate its transmitter at their satellite campus, called University Heights, in the Bronx.
Ironically, the campus was sold a few years later to Bronx Community College, but the transmitter still operates from there. FDU’s antenna ended up on the Armstrong Tower in Alpine, New Jersey, where it remains today. That tower is the site of the world’s first FM radio transmitter, built by “Major” Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio. And so, Bergen County’s first full power FM station took to the air in an historic manner."
Wow! What a story. Now THAT's history!