WRDV FM has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the official radio station of the Centennial School District.
Currently broadcasting over a four-station network (WRDV FM serves Warminster/Hatboro, Bensalem and Philadelphia, and WLBS FM serves Bristol/Levittown), in addition to virtual streaming, which garners 300,000 tune-ins per month from around the world, the station has become a community go-to for oldies, classic rock, big band and more.
This year, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary, WRDV is seeking community support during a three-week fundraiser, which runs through Nov. 8. Listeners are invited to call the station and make a pledge.
According to music director Ted Taylor, WRDV’s 24/7 programming relies solely on listener support and help from local businesses that serve as non-advertiser sponsors.
“No one at the station makes any money. We’re all volunteers and we all love the place,” said Taylor, adding that the fundraising goal is $40,000. “That helps us keep the lights on and keeps us on the air.”
The staff encompasses about 60 people, with deejays hailing from all backgrounds. Staff includes two lawyers, a college professor, two pharmacists, a number of teachers, a fireman, police officers, accountants, salesmen, two professional actors, a mechanical engineer, registered nurse, nuclear sub and aircraft component inspector, script writer, truck driver, deli clerk, cemetery lot salesman and mobile deejays. Several have worked at other professional stations, including B-101, WJBR and WMMR.
Volunteer staffers typically work one or two shifts a week, and come from Bucks and Montgomery counties, as well as the Main Line, Delaware and Chester counties, and New Jersey.
Nestled in a storefront building on York Road in Hatboro, WRDV is owned and operated by the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Association. Its transmitter is located in Warminster, giving it a two-county presence.
WRDV began as WCSD FM in 1976 as the official voice of the Centennial School District, directed by Superintendent Dr. Everett McDonald and telecommunications director David Barner. When both left the district, interest in the station waned, and it ceased operations in January 1979.
However, that same year, the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Association was formed and incorporated, and ownership of the station was granted transfer by the FCC in early 1980. By the spring, the station was back on the air and operating as WRDV out of the Warminster Township building.
“We changed the call letters to WRDV to get rid of any reference to it being a high school station,” said Charles Loughery, president of the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Association. “Most of us were in our early 20s at the time. I was 21 when we put the station back on the air in 1980.”
Those pioneers also included Todd Allen (the station vice president and general manager), Ron Michaels (founding president and current trustee), Jack Boland (board member and current on-air personality) and others no longer involved.
Initially, WRDV began broadcasting an adult contemporary format, but it wasn’t successful. Although leadership contemplated a switch to rock oldies, major Philadelphia stations WOGL and WIOQ beat them to the punch.
It was 30 years ago when WRDV adopted a weekday format of big band and swing, which was (and still is) well-received by listeners. The station boasts a library of 25,000-plus titles from that era. Additionally, most evening and weekend shows are devoted to the previously-suggested rock oldies format, which has, ironically, amassed a large following.
Since its inception, WRDV has served as a training ground for young people aspiring to work in the radio industry. Over the years, many have “cut their teeth” at the station, and moved on to successful, professional careers. This mission continues today, with WRDV hosting an annual disc jockey training school. Though this was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, there will likely be a 2021 class in the spring.
For those interested in making a pledge, the on-air number is 215-674-8002. Donations can also be made online at wrdv.org, or by sending a check to WRDV FM, P.O. Box 2012, Warminster, PA 18974. WRDV FM can be heard on 89.3 (Warminster), 91.7 (Bristol/Levittown), 97.1 (Bensalem) and 107.3 (Philadelphia).
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org