Guide to the WDBS Collection, 1949 - 1983
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WDBS was Duke University's campus radio station from 1950-1983. It initially broadcast on AM by carrier current, a system in which radio signals were fed into the university's electrical system. In 1971, WDBS began broadcasting on FM 107.1 as a commercial, non-profit station. AM broadcasts ceased in the early 1970s. WDBS was sold in 1983 to repay debts the station owed Duke University. Collection includes annual reports, correspondence, proposals, newspaper clippings, advertising, program guides, record company photographs and press releases, and other materials related to the operation of WDBS. There are also reel-to-reel sound recordings of broadcasts from the 1960s and 1970s, including speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokeley Carmichael, Douglas Knight, Samuel Dubois Cook, Charles Goodell, Robert Shelton, Spiro Agnew, Julian Bond, Birch Bayh, William Kunstler, Floyd McKissick, Richard Kleindienst, and Terry Sanford. News events and other subjects represented on tape include the 1968 Vigil, the 1969 takeover of the Allen Building by the Afro-American Society, racial unrest in Durham, anti-war activism, the 1971 USA Pan-Africa track meet, the 1972 Republican National Convention, the dedication of the William R. Perkins Library, and the Duke Symposium. Musical recordings include an organ recital, the Concert Band, and the Glee Club. English.
- Record Group
- WDBS collection
- WDBS (Radio station : Durham, N.C.)
- 8 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Collection includes annual reports, correspondence, proposals, newspaper clippings, advertising, program guides, record company photographs and press releases, and other materials related to the operation of WDBS. There are also reel-to-reel sound recordings of broadcasts from the 1960s and 1970s, including speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokeley Carmichael, Douglas Knight, Samuel Dubois Cook, Charles Goodell, Robert Shelton, Spiro Agnew, Julian Bond, Birch Bayh, William Kunstler, Floyd McKissick, Richard Kleindienst, and Terry Sanford. News events and other subjects represented on tape include the 1968 Vigil, the 1969 takeover of the Allen Building by the Afro-American Society, racial unrest in Durham, anti-war activism, the 1971 USA Pan-Africa track meet, the 1972 Republican National Convention, the dedication of the William R. Perkins Library, and the Duke Symposium. Musical recordings include an organ recital, the Concert Band, and the Glee Club.
Access to the Collection
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.
Use of audiotapes from this collection requires the creation of reference copies. Reference copies for a few of the tapes have been made on audiocassettes, and if a reference copy exists, it is noted in this finding aid. To arrange for the creation of reference copies of other items, please contact University Archives staff. Although these recordings are now stored in a stable environment, their condition and playback quality is unknown.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], WDBS Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Includes annual reports from the station manager, engineering manager, public relations manager, business manager, production manager, news editor, and other staff members. Also included are profit and loss statements, correspondence regarding equipment, equipment diagrams, program schedules, and other materials related to the operation of WDBS.
Most of the clippings concern events surrounding the proposed sale of the station in the 70s, a proposal by WDUK to assume the operations of WDBS and give control of the station back to students, community opposition to the sale, and the final sale of the station in 1983.
Memos and correspondence, including a 1950 plan for installing a campus radio station and a 1966 report on the feasibility of a campus FM station.
Printed teletype reports from United Press International (UPI). Most of the news stories pertain to 1968 presidential primaries.
Bumper stickers, promotional items, and other materials.
The WDBS Program Guide began as a weekly pamphlet that listed the week's programming. By 1974, it published monthly, accepted advertising, and featured articles, fiction, poetry, photography, and a calendar of local cultural events.
Photographs, posters, press releases, and other materials supplied to WDBS by record companies.
ASDU President Robert C. Fedlman; Provost Marcus Hobbs; Chancellor Barnes Woodhall
Address by Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of the KKK (United Klans of America). Provided by C. P. Ellis, President Durham Unit #9 United Klans of America, Inc. A note from C. P. Ellis included with the tape is in Box 6, Folder 36.
1. Quad forum report by Ken Ross, 1968-1969; 2. Actuality from President Knight's home during the Allen Building crisis, February 1969; 3. Dubs from quad rally; 4. Howard Fuller in Page Auditorium, February 15, 1969; 5. Tom Fine in Washington, November 15, 1969 march; 6. Tom Fine in Washington, November 15, 1969 march; 7. John Deal, October, 1969, Divinity School on Moratorium; 8. Quad rally; 9. Don Baumgartner, November 15, 1969 moratorium
Speaker during "Black Week" with Greg Kern & Anthony Steward.
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-1; Pete Seeger Spots by Paul Robert Conroy; In the Beginning: Friday night, April 5, 1968, Speech in the Alumni Lounge by Dr. John Strange to the group just before marching to Dr. Knight's home.
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-2; Dr. Knight at home-talks with Jack Boger and Jon Kinney, commentary by Ken Ross, Dave Birkhead, Paul Robert Conroy. Ken Ross with 20 minute actuality on Dr. Knight talking to the vigil at his home, questioned by Jack Boger, et al.
John Strange (Alumni Lounge) as on tape no. 1; Statements by: Dean William Griffith; Dr. James Graham; Tupp Blackwell for the S.S.O.C.; Mr. Ted Minah; University spokesman (Bindewald); Dave Birkhead; Chris Jossi; The original tape no. 4 from the WDBS collection described above does not correspond to any of the dubbed tapes in the Duke Vigil collection. Tape no. 4 in the Duke Vigil collection is labeled: WDBS Tapes of the Duke Vigil, no. 4, April 8, 1968-April 10, 1968 Press conference, continued: John Strange, Bunny Small, John Kinney. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech played several times to the assembled vigil on the quad. Wednesday, April 10, 1968, main quad: John Strange and Wright Tisdale addresses, singing of "We shall overcome." This tape from the Duke Vigil Collection does not seem to directly correspond to any of the tapes in the WDBS Collection.
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-5; At Dr. Knight's House, April 6, Sat. p.m.; a. Huck Gutman-on Local 77 Strike; b. Questions on the 4 demands; c. WDBS Actualities (most same as #4); Mr. Ted Minah-statement on strike; Mr. Bindewald-same; Mr. Ted Minah-appeal for student workers; d. Jack Boger-on what to do now; e. Dr. John Strange-same; f. Law student, Dave Hunt
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-7; Sunday, April 7, 1968, on the main quad: Dr. John Strange, reading from Dr. King; Bunny Small recaps the past 43 hours; Jon Kinney; general announcements; comments on the Black students; Huck Gutman, reading Thoreau; Algerian grad student
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-8; Sunday, April 7, 1968, cont. rally on the main quad: Singing led by Nick Atkins, organizer for Local 77, et al.; Announcements by Lucy Brady, Food Committee; Chairman Tape of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, Washington, 1963
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-11; Rally on the Main Quad, cont.; Questions and answers from the assembled Duke Vigil to and from: Mr. Ira Sanford, Miss Joan Baez, Mr. David Harris
1 sound tape reel (1200 ft.): 7 1/2 ips ; 7 in. UA68-347-9; a. Address by Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook to the assembled Vigil, Wednesday. April 10, 1968, time, ten minutes. b. Statement to the students of Duke University, read to the assembled Duke Vigil, by Wright Tisdale, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Wednesday, April 10, 1968, Time: five minutes.
Speeches on the Main Quad 1. Dr. John Strange; 2. Mr. Wright Tisdale, Chairman, Duke University Board of Trustees (same as 11); 3. Dr. John Strange (remarks on #2); 4. Replay of speech by Dr. Samuel D. Cook to the assembled Vigil by WDBS (same as 11)
1. Ira Santel? [Sanford]; 2. Joan Baez; 3. David Harris; at the Duke Vigil on the Main Quad
1. Afro Allen Bldg Takeover wrap-up report; Chris Santy-correspondent February 17, 1969; 2. Report by Chris Santy (David Christy) on visit of Dick Gregory to Duke campus February 10, 1969
Afro Take Over of Allen Bldg. Reports by Chris Santy (alias David Christy)
Rally at Dr. Knight's house after Afro-Am takeover of Allen Building. Recorded by Duke Univ. Information Services
1. Actualities for Page Convocation, 12:30 p.m., February 15, 1969; 2. Tom Fine spot hospital workers sit-in. Statement by Doctor who allegedly struck black hospital worker, January 21, 1970; 3. Robert Chapman spot on sit-in by workers affiliated with Local 1199D at Duke hospital arrested for trespassing after nursing office sit-in, January 1970
Part I: Convocation-Introduction of president of Afro-Ams at Page. Recorded following Afro take-over of Allen Building.
Part III: Convocation called by students following Afro take-over of Allen Bldg.; Contents:Howard Fuller (part II); Tom Rainey of History Dept.; Dean Griffith (part I)
1. Preface by Dr. Knight aired February 15, 1969 7pm; 2. Don Baumgardner, March 10, 1969; 3. Apollo 9 liftoff by ABC radio; 4. President Knight resignation, March 27, 1969, Baumgardner and Braswell; 5. President Knight at his home during the February 1969 crisis
Ashmore statement during February 69 crisis; Report on crisis on campus, midnite, February 12, 1969; Dean Griffith, March 12, 1969; Frank L. Ashmore, March 12, 1969
Wrap-up of Afro-Allen events, February 13- 16, 1969
WDBS was Duke University's campus radio station from 1950-1983. It initially broadcast on AM by carrier current, a system in which radio signals were fed into the university's electrical system. In 1971, WDBS began broadcasting on FM 107.1 as a commercial, non-profit station. AM broadcasts ceased in the early 1970s. WDBS was sold in 1983 to repay debts the station owed Duke University.
In 1947, three classmates from Rocky Mount, NC started a carrier current station called WCDC (for "We cover Duke campus".) They were persuaded to make their station an official university activity, and in 1950, WDBS began broadcasting from the basement of the Gray Building. In 1963, WDBS moved to the Bivins Building on East Campus.
In addition to music, the station presented campus news, national news, Duke athletics, and coverage of special events, including the 1968 Vigil after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the 1969 Allen Building takeover, and anti-Viet Nam War activities.
In 1971, WDBS purchased its FM license from Durham's WSRC. AM broadcasts continued for a time but ceased soon thereafter. Although owned by Duke, WDBS-FM operated independently as a commercial but non-profit entity. Initially run by students, by 1975 it was primarily staffed by professionals. The station was known for its extensive record collection, free form rock programming, and coverage of local events.
The purchase of the FM license, made possible by a long term loan from the university that was to be repaid from advertising revenue, put the station into debt from which it never recovered. Talk of selling the station's license, in order to pay back the debt to the university, began in the mid-to-late 70s.
In May 1978, WDBS agreed to sell its license to Village Broadcasting of Chapel Hill, pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission. Durham residents opposed to the sale petitioned the FCC to stop the license transfer. In October 1979, the Board of Directors of WDBS withdrew from the sale, citing the lack of approval from the FCC.
In 1980, the station moved from Bivins to Broad Street. In an attempt to increase listenership, WDBS changed its format from rock to classical during the day and jazz at night. In August 1982, WDBS agreed to sell to Classic Ventures, Ltd., pending approval by the FCC. The sale was approved in April 1983 and WDBS became an easy listening station. In 1984, it became WXFC.
There are some connections between WDBS and the later FM station, WXDU. In 1974, the unused AM carrier current system was revived as WDUR, playing Top-40, rock, and jazz. In 1977, WDUR became WDUK after a local commercial station petitioned the FCC for the call letters WDUR. In 1977, when the sale of WDBS was being considered, WDUK staffers proposed that students take over and operate WDBS. This proposal was eventually rejected. When WDBS moved off campus in 1980, WDUK moved into its former studios. In 1983, WDUK began broadcasting on FM as WXDU.
Joseph C. Wetherby Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Vice President for Business and Finance Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Celester Wesson Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Agnew, Spiro T., 1918-1996
- Bayh, Birch, 1928-
- Bond, Julian, 1940-
- Cook, Samuel DuBois, 1927-
- Carmichael, Stokely
- Duke University -- History -- 20th century
- Duke University -- Students -- Political activity
- Duke University. Afro-American Society
- Goodell, Charles E. (Charles Ellsworth), 1926-1987
- Kunstler, William Moses, 1919-
- King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
- Knight, Douglas M., 1921-2005
- Kleindienst, Richard G., 1923-
- McKissick, Floyd B. (Floyd Bixler), 1922-
- Sanford, Terry
- Shelton, Robert M.
- WDBS (Radio station : Durham, N.C.)
- African American student movements
- African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham -- Political activity
- Civil rights demonstrations -- North Carolina -- Durham
- College radio stations
- Students -- Political activity
- Student movements -- United States
- Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States
The WDBS Collection was received by the University Archives as transfers and gifts in 1969, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1981, 1996, accession numbers UA69-55, UA72-55, UA72-78, UA74-25, UA74-187, UA79-95, UA81-71, UA96-95.
Processed by Dean Jeffrey
Completed Dec. 2, 2005
Encoded by Dean Jeffrey, Dec. 9, 2005