- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- WPRB (Radio station : Princeton, N.J.)
- WPRB Records
- Princeton University Archives
- Permanent URL:
- 18 boxes and 4 items
- Storage Note:
- Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-18
WPRB is the student-operated FM radio station of Princeton University, providing music and live sports broadcasts to the Princeton campus community and surrounding areas. The records consist of various materials which document the origins and development of WPRB, including constitutions, by-laws, photographs, membership lists, clipped articles, board minutes, correspondence, and financial reports.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The records consist of various materials which document the origins and development of WPRB, including constitutions, by-laws, photographs, membership lists, clipped articles, board minutes, correspondence, and financial reports.
The records are especially illustrative in their documentation of the station's beginnings. Nearly every piece of correspondence from station member H. Grant Theis is preserved, often with his own retrospective commentary attached. There are also several drafts of station histories, and large amounts of correspondence and technical reports detailing the station's move from AM to FM broadcasting.
The records also contain a number of photographs of WPRB staff and facilities. These photographs have been left in their original locations, and are interspersed with the station records.
The records also contain singing station break music circa 1960, and a series that includes both paper records and audio reel-to-reel tapes from the period 1969-1971.
- Collection Creator Biography:
WPRB (Radio station : Princeton, N.J.)
WPRB is the student-operated FM radio station of Princeton University, providing music and live sports broadcasts to the Princeton campus community and surrounding areas.
The birth of the station can be attributed to one H. Grant Theis '42, who on May 13, 1939 wrote to the Federal Communications Commission expressing the interest of a small group of Princeton students in organizing a radio station and requesting information on the necessary F.C.C. requirements and specifications for its operation. A summer of negotiations with University administration and technical experimentation soon followed, and by November 11, 1940 broadcasting had officially commenced under the call letters WPRU.
Despite the station's meager facilities in Theis' Pyne Hall dormitory and its limited program schedule of 3 hours daily, the early station was a success. Within several months of its taking to the airwaves, it was prominently featured in a Saturday Evening Post article about college radio stations. An early survey also revealed an 82% listenership rating among students and faculty.
In an age before the advent of television, the radio station became a significant center of student life. In addition to providing news from around the world and locally the young station covered varsity athletics, and provided a stage for the student body's many musical groups.
The initial reach of the station was limited to campus; however in 1955 WPRU applied for and was granted the license to build an FM transmitter, extending its broadcast range to a radius of 20 miles on the FM band. The new FM capabilities necessitated a change in location (from Pyne to the more accommodating basement of Holder Hall) and a change in name, with WPRU adopting WPRB. Also notable at this time was the acquisition of an FM broadcasting license from the F.C.C., the first of its kind granted to a college commercial radio station. The accompanying increase of the transmitting power to 17,000 watts in 1960 made WPRB the most powerful college radio station in the nation.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, WPRB bolstered its reputation on campus and off by providing a variety of music specialty shows and exclusive news coverage of prominent campus events such as Alger Hiss' lecture in 1956. In 1973 summer broadcasting appeared for the first time, and experimentation with diverse musical styles throughout the 1970s resulted in the station's appearance in the Arbitron radio ratings.
Like many college radio stations in the 1980s and 1990s, WPRB carved out a niche for itself in the musical community by eschewing the mainstream rock and pop offerings played by major market stations and instead focusing upon independent artists. In the 21st century, the introduction of a live stream which enabled listeners to tune in to WPRB over the internet expanded the station's range to any individual or location with a connection to the World Wide Web.
The Series 1 records were transferred to the library by WPRB in August of 2006 . The Series 2 Singing Station Break record and notations were donated to the library by Bill Borchard '60 in December of 2015 . The Series 2 WPRU Music of Princeton record was gifted to the University Archives by Paul Dunn '58 in 2016 The Series 3 WPRU recordings were dontated by John H. Mitchell '45 in August 2017 . Series 5, Frank King '1971 Records, was donated by Frank King in 2018 (AR.2018.101).
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No material has been separated from this collection.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Daniel Brennan and Nicholas Cox '10 in July, 2008. Finding aid written by Daniel Brennan in July, 2008. Finding aid updated by Lynn Durgin in February, 2016. 2018 additions processed by Annalise Berdini in May, 2018. Series 5 added to the finding aid by Phoebe Nobles in February, 2022.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.
- Special Requirements for Access:
Mudd library does not have the facilities to view or listen to audio or audiovisual material; obsolete formats will need to be converted to a current format at the patron's expense before a reproduction can be made. Patrons should allow approximately four to six weeks for reproductions, especially if outdated formats are involved.
The two records in Series 3, WPRU Recordings were treated for mold in 2017. However, materials may still be fragile and exhibit signs of damage. Researchers should exercise caution when handling these materials.
- Credit this material:
WPRB Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript LibrarySeeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Publication Note:
A Princeton Companion by Alexander Leitch and the WPRB web site were consulted during preparation of the organizational history.
- Subject Terms:
- College radio stations - Licenses.
College radio stations.
Radio antennas - New Jersey - Princeton.
- Princeton University. - Public services.