Tuning Into WBOR, Bowdoin’s Beloved Freeform Radio Station

WBOR 91.1 FM this year was led by a crew of 14 devoted students and one community member (who runs the station during school breaks). Many more students, professors and locals hosted weekly one-hour music and talk shows. Walker Kennedy ’15, the station’s manager, said more than 100 DJs contributed to WBOR’s programming.

WBOR is unique, according to Kennedy, because it is still mostly freeform, which means that any DJ, regardless of their musical preference, can have a show. Plus, DJs can play different genres of music from week to week based on their whims, from folk to hip hop and everything in between. In addition to such musical shows as “Worlds of Jazz,” “Pardon My French,” and “100 Years of Solid Tunes,” the station features talks shows, including one that covers technology and another about professional, college and Bowdoin sports.

This year the radio did break from its freeform tradition a bit to incorporate seven regular weekly shows devoted to specific genres of music. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., DJs hosted “Metal Mondays,” “Country Tuesdays,” “Women in Rock Wednesdays,” “Throwback Thursdays,” “Funky Fridays,” “Top 40 Saturdays,” and “Jazz/Classical Sundays.” Kennedy says regular shows strengthens ties with listeners, drawing them back at certain hours when they can expect dependable programming.

Another way WBOR is special, Kennedy continues, is its strong link to the community. “We have an interesting ratio between students and community members,” he said. “In my mind, WBOR, for Bowdoin College, is one of the main ways we interact with a lot of community members. A lot of them love the station, listen to it, or are DJs on it.”

Jenny Goetz ’15, a host of the music show “The Awkward Hour,” said being a WBOR DJ widened her world. “You get to feel like a part of Bowdoin that isn’t just part of the Bowdoin bubble,” she said. “There are people here from all over the place. Professors, high schoolers, college students — they all do shows.”

Bowdoin’s radio station received its first FCC license in the 1950s, becoming 91.1 FM WBOR (Bowdoin on the Radio). In 1982, the FCC allowed the station to increase to 300 watts, extending the broadcast to about 15 miles, according to a 2009 Bowdoin Magazine article. But listeners around the world can tune in to WBOR via the Internet.

thumb: