Stetson student Noah Reed started hosting a show on the university’s WHAT Radio station two years ago, tucked in a small room in Elizabeth Hall.
“It was kind of hard to find our offices,” recalled Reed of the station on the first floor of Elizabeth Hall. “But now we’re going to be in direct view of student activity.”
The student-run station, which is broadcast over the internet, has moved into the new North Wing in the renovated and expanded Carlton Union Building. The station now occupies a corner office at the top of the stairs, next to a new Student Lounge and student meeting room.
Two lighted signs hang on the wall outside — “On The Air” and a green-and-white logo that says, “Stetson University, The WHAT Radio Co., 1975.”
The WHAT sign was installed last week and donated by Stetson alumnus Peter Brockway ’78, who founded WHAT Radio when he was a student in the 1970s.
“There actually wasn’t a radio station when I came here,” said Brockway, co-owner of an equity firm in Boca Raton and husband of Stetson Trustee and alumna Susan Perry Brockway. “Most colleges have a radio station, so we wanted to get a radio station started. …
“Every radio station on the East Coast starts with a W, and my brother came up with the idea using H-A-T for Hatter, and that seemed perfect. We realized using the call letters WHAT could lead to a lot of humorous things. WHAT are you listening to? And they’re still doing that these days, having fun with the call letters.”
The station started out on closed-circuit, broadcasting to just the small campus area. Brockway served as station manager and hosted a show, playing Top 40 tunes of the ’70s, including the Eagles, the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“We did just like they do it today. All student management of the radio station, all disc jockeys and on-air people were students,” he said. “I was delighted to see the new incarnation of the station, with it being on the internet, which makes perfect sense because you can listen to it anywhere.”
Brockway and his wife initially made a donation to sponsor the new radio room in the CUB. In the process, they learned the station didn’t have a budget for new equipment or furnishings, which led to a challenge gift from them that matched what the students raised during a May phone-a-thon and from other donors who came forward, including students who had worked with WHAT in the ’70s and ’80s.
In May, when Peter Brockway visited the students on campus, he learned they didn’t have a sign for the new location, so he donated that, too.
The roots of radio at Stetson go back to 1949, when Stetson founded WJBS (for John B. Stetson), 1490 on the AM dial. The college later sold the AM station. And in 1975, Brockway started WHAT Radio on the second floor of the CUB’s South Wing in a room about the size of an oversized janitorial closet, he said.
“With the better facilities, they’ll see where they can take it,” he said of the radio’s new studio. “It gives them a new platform or springboard to try to do more things with it.”
Reed, the current station manager, said he hopes the new location will generate more interest from students to tune in or host a radio show. Last week, he and other students were settling into the new space and hope to be back on the air in late August.
“This truly is a great time to be involved in student media with all of these excellent opportunities that have been thrown our way, even in just the past year and all the growth we’ve experienced, even in the last semester,” said Reed, a senior majoring in music technology. “It really is an exciting time to be involved in Hatter Network.”
The student-run Hatter Network, which includes the radio station, The Reporter magazine and Touchstone journal, also has moved into new offices on the second floor of the CUB’s North Wing.
“Our new offices, combined together, are such a blessing,” said Shaylen Vitale, Editor-in-Chief of Hatter Network. “This development — moving to much better offices, completion of the radio station and everything — it’s huge for all of us because it helps to unite us as one large collective. We’re trying to unify the student body with us.”