Back when it first started in the 1930s, UBC Radio, now known as CiTR, was a lively place. And they've kept up that vibe now for 75 years.
The independent campus and community station turns 75 this week and will be celebrating with a birthday shindig complete with live bands, as well as a weekend studio re-acquainting for alumni and other social events.
They'll be celebrating a history that includes the beginnings for interviewer and entertainment personality Nardwuar the Human Serviette, the birth of Mint Records, radio broadcasters and countless bands.
CiTR station manager Brenda Grunau says although she feels relatively new after four-and-a-half years with the station considering its long history, it still feels good to know how far they've come.
The station started as "a pile of students" in 1937 producing a weekly program that was broadcast on CBC. Soon after, UBC Radio programs began being wired, not on radio waves, to residences around campuses and in the Brock Hall student union building.
That's how UBC Radio alumni Alan Newberry remembers his years involved with the station in the late 1950s, when he produced a weekly 15-minute show called UBC Digest. The light news show, consisting of interviews with key figures at the time and information about the university, was recorded and sent to 13 stations around the province. It was also heard across campus.
Although he didn't go on to have a long-term career in radio, he worked alongside radio greats like Dave "Big Daddy" McCormick, who has worked in radio in Vancouver, Seattle and California, and won several broadcasting awards. Newberry was also a contemporary to journalist great Allan Fotheringham at The Ubyssey, UBC's student newspaper.
According to Newberry, although their station was mostly made up of bits and pieces donated from other radio stations in Vancouver, the atmosphere at RadioSoc, as it was known then, was perfect for breeding radio geniuses. But more than that, UBC radio had a culture designed for it.
"You had a bunch of people there who were so committed, people who probably had from a young age a drive to work behind the microphone," said Newberry. "We showed up early and left late at night and were there on the weekends. It was a bunch of people who were obsessed with radio who were supposed to be going to classes at the university."
At 75 years old himself, and holding several degrees, Newberry is not afraid to admit he didn't attend many classes at the time. Like so many others, radio was his number one priority.
Grunau says a lot has changed since those old days. The station moved off the old tube system and got its own FM signal in the 1980s. Now it has a yearly membership of 300 and nearly 20 community and student staffers.
With permanent staff, she said it's no longer the case that students have to devote every waking hour to the station, as Newberry experienced back in the '50s.
"People joke that people in the past would major in CiTR and not complete their degrees_ they were too busy putting out radio," said Grunau.
They'll be an opportunity for those old CiTR graduates to have a radio reunion as part of the birthday celebrations as well, and a chance for those alumni to come back on the air and produce their old shows again over the weekend.
Grunau says that's the part of the celebrations she's most looking forward to - hearing about the old days from those alumni.
"There are a lot of crazy stories."
CiTR's Diamond Radioversary Party
Nov. 17, 8 p.m. at Chapel Arts, 304 Dunlevy Ave.
More info: www.citr.ca