By Bailey Cummings
Published October 8, 2019
“WSUA TV proudly presents Around the University with Ernest Presto, brought to you by the State University of New York at Albany,” the speakers blare in a side room of the WCDB station in the Campus Center.
An old couch sits near a window looking out into the WCDB hallway. The walls are covered with stickers and posters of old rock bands and chart-topping sensations. Shelves are filled with CD’s and sit beneath the two speakers in which we are listening to.
“Remember, if you’re not getting your money's worth, then you must be at Albany!”
Javan Blackshear lets out a large chuckle. A junior and urban planning major, Blackshear stumbled upon a piece of UAlbany history while flipping through a yearbook. Blackshear approached the ASP at a campus event, excited about the “scoop” he had.
He holds up a red and yellow yearbook with “Torch 1973” written in the bottom right hand corner of the thick hard cover. He had found a vinyl record.
“When I looked through the back of this 1973 yearbook, I found a record,” he explains. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a record and I want to hear it!’”
“I thought it was music initially,” he continues. “But then when I heard it, it was just a phony radio broadcast.”
The recording is filled with jokes and zany lines.
“It’s funny because it’s talking about life at the university at the time,” Blackshear says. “When you listen to it, you find similarities, and some differences, but mostly similarities and it’s really funny.”
The broadcast follows fictional student “Ira M. Patchouli”, the last name a nod at the signature scent of the 70s. Throughout listening, Blackshear couldn’t contain his laughter.
“I found it [the yearbook] a few weeks ago,” Blackshear says. “It was inside the Gender [and Sexuality] Resource Center.”
While there were other yearbooks in the GSRC office, he had picked out the year 1973. And good thing he did.
After the library failed to provide a working record player, Blackshear went to the WCDB radio station in hopes of being able to listen to the unusual find.
“Attention all freaks, jocks, greasers, pseudos, radicals: Thinking of going away for four years but don’t know where? Think no more! Albany is the place for you!” a goofy commercial says in between segments. Upbeat music plays behind the over-expressive voice.
“Yes, at the State University, we have something for everybody, at phenomenal prices, too! Check this out: Pay tuition, housing, insurance, and various other fees, and you get to eat in the campus center dining hall!”
In the background, a hoarse voice says, “Meals extra!”
The records grainy sound transports the listener back to the 70s, skipping every so often, building the anticipation of what joke will be made next. The voices are theatrical, with different accents and inflections for each character.
“And that’s not all! Play frisbee in the areas largest outdoor wading pool!” it says, poking fun at the shallow pool that surrounds the bell tower on campus.
Genevieve Roberts, a senior that works in the DJ training department of WCDB, was excited to hear the ‘73 record. When the first side began, she exclaimed, “That’s us! WCDB!”
Blackshear feels that the phony radio show is a unique piece of UAlbany history and that its audio should be preserved and shared.
“I want it digitized,” he says. “That’s the only thing; it needs to get digitized. I want more people to hear it. It should be uploaded to the university catalog system online. It would be great.”
Blackshear’s discovery illuminates the humorous, hidden work a few UAlbany students created while working at WCDB.
“So drop in and see why so many drop out!” the broadcast says, a lovely sentiment about our university that you can’t help but laugh at.