WPAA, Online and On-the-Air

As generations of Andover students flow through the institution, each carries away with it memories of important aspects of their PA careers. Some may remember the athletics, others the dorm experiences. However, students in the 1990s may also recall the days of WPAA’s dominance on campus, when students were eagerly involved and interested in its operations. A former president of BMG Entertainment established WPAA in the 1960’s as the first high school radio station in the United States. Its popularity rose through the 1990’s. “It was really ‘the thing’ here at Andover for a while. Kids were always listening to the station during their free time,” said News Director Jamie Bologna ’04. Since then, popularity has gradually decreased. The current WPAA board seeks to “restore WPAA to its former glory,” Bologna described. General Manager Alex Thorn ’04 echoed this thought. “I plan on making WPAA more important on the Phillips Academy Campus,” he said. The board members plan on achieving this goal through WPAA’s new “Webcast.” Instead of tuning into 91.7 FM on a radio, students and faculty must now click on PANet’s WPAA link, which allows them to read about upcoming events, scan the schedule for the week, and listen live. It does not count toward the 1 GB bandwidth/per week limit, and it is possible to request songs by instant messaging the DJ. The new setup was chosen as a more cost efficient option and the board members hope it will attract more listeners to WPAA by offering better reception. In addition to Webcast, the WPAA now has a continuous 500 song playlist to fill the gaps between broadcasts. The posters around campus are also part of a publicity campaign, and Thorn promises freestyle rap battles, a new Thursday night show called “The Dome,” and many concerts to come. However, besides attracting more listeners to the station, WPAA’s members also want to get members of the Andover community thinking. “There was a show called The sKYNY that was very popular,” Thorn said. “It ended up being really controversial,” Bologna added, “A lot of things were said that some people thought shouldn’t have been said, but that’s part of what we do. We want to get people questioning, and debating, and well, thinking.” Now, WPAA offers something for everyone. It “is a slew of students and faculty shows that range from sports talk to music,” Thorn said. Bologna added,“There’s a wide variety of people here and there’s a large variety of shows and music, which makes it interesting.”