WFDD History

WFDD History

11:30am Nov 28, 2012

"This is station W-A-K-E coming to you from the campus of Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, North Carolina…"With these words, a radio station was born. In the fall of 1946, Alva "Al" Parris and Henry "Randy" Randall, began broadcasting--illegally--from their rooming house. Their early five-watt broadcasts only covered an area of about 300 feet in all directions--students in the girls' dormitory could barely hear the station. Over the next year, as students pushed for better broadcasting range, college president Dr. Thurman D. Kitchin and faculty advisor Dr. Marc Lovelace helped establish WAKE as an official campus radio station. Students successfully raised the necessary $200 start-up funds, and by spring of 1948, the station had its FCC license.Brothers David and Ralph Herring, Jr. built the first 50-watt transmitter, relying on diagrams found in a book about electronics and on the advice of a Raleigh radio engineer. On April 19, 1948, chief announcer Roland C. "Woody" Woodward was joined by President Kitchin and student body president Horace "Dagwood" Kornegay as the "Voice of Wake Forest" hit the airwaves. As it turned out, the original call letters WAKE were already assigned to another station. Within the month, the fledgling station's call letters became WFDD, which stands for Wake Forest Demon Deacons.For the next ten years, WFDD was completely a student-run station. When Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, WFDD moved as well. Early programming included classical and popular music, programs by faculty members, an hour of devotional material each week, some campus sports, news, and a nightly broadcast of the "Deaconlight Serenade--beaming musical good cheer to you and yours, styled Wake Forest way."In 1958, Dr. Julian Burroughs, who served as student station manager in 1950-51, returned to the station as the first non-student station manager. Burroughs served both as a professor in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at Wake Forest University and as station manager for WFDD until 1981. During this tenure, WFDD became a non-commercial educational FM station in 1961. Local listeners helped raise money for the addition of a new antenna and 36,000-watt transmitter in 1967, making WFDD the first FM stereo station in Winston-Salem. WFDD became a charter member of National Public Radio - the first in North Carolina - in 1970.In 1982, WFDD began operating with a new antenna and 100,000-watt transmitter. On May 5, 1989, this transmitter was destroyed by a tornado.Piedmont Public Radio currently broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from a 60,000-watt tower in northern Davidson County. 

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