May 3, 2013
The concept of the radio was developed in the late 1800s, where electricity allowed wireless communication. Elon College offered its first class about this new invention in 1922, which was described as experimental in nature. The class was taught in conjunction with electricity, and students focused on the practical and theoretical operation of the radio.
In 1941, students began a series on WBBB, the radio station in Burlington. Elon College did not have its own radio station at this point because it would be expected to entertain a large, general population. Also, some people considered the radio station in Burlington a monopoly. During this time, most stations were owned by the state and subject to Federal Communication Commission regulations. The Radio Team had a program on WBBB called “This is Elon College.” People were asked to audition, and there were three weekly programs. One program was by the English department, one by the overall faculty, and one by the music department.
By the late 1960s, students persisted in placing a radio station on campus. A letter written to the editor of Veritas summarizing the purpose of this request as wanting the opportunity to work with the radio before the technology became irrelevant in society. Bill Zint was the student leader credited with overseeing the campus’ first station. The organization chose to play classical, jazz, pop, and rock music. Fifteen hours of educational material were required to be aired each week as the station was intended for educational purposes. Concerns about the radio, however, continued to linger at Elon about potential health and hazing risks. These were derived from uncertainties about radio waves and the ability to use the radio for pranks.
Finally, on April 20, 1977, Elon began its broadcasts from campus on WSOE at 89.3 FM. WSOE stands for “Wonderful Sounds of Elon” and is pronounced “sew-ee.” WSOE is non-commercial and student run, and can be heard about ten miles away from Elon. Today, a variety of music and shows are aired in addition to sports coverage. The understanding and implementation of the radio at Elon, as history reveals, has progressed extensively since 1922.