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The Folk Hour on WHCL-FM

April 15, 2011

One Hamilton institution (albeit, a young one) that welcomed Kirkland women in 1968 was the broadcast station WHCL-FM (“88.7 on your FM dial”).  Its studio was then located in the basement of Minor Theater, and it boasted an AP Newswire teletype (student staffers were expected to check for breaking news and to share any important reports).

The history of WHCL-FM is told (in brief) on its current website.  In the late ’60s, the station was governed by a somewhat formal structure, which included a Program Director, show producers and on-air hosts.  Per FCC (music licensing) regulations, all programs had to submit a playlist in advance of broadcast.


Playlist for the Folk Hour 1968

While I can’t recall all the details of how we got started, I know that show producer  Merrill Jones (who passed away in 1979) took me on as an announcer.  Together we worked on a playlist of contemporary folk (pre folk-rock) offerings and commentary.  Within a year, I was producing live music broadcasts in cooperation with the Kirkland Coffee House (housed in a corner of McEwen, near the rock swing).

On November 6, 1969, 9:45pm-12mid, we broadcast “Grassroots” live Broadcast from the Kirkland Coffee House.  Bob Shea was our engineer, and  I kept a 1/4″ reel-to-reel magnetic tape from the program for 35 years.  In 2005 I was able to digitize some selections.
This first selection is the most interesting to me, and may deserve some explanation.

Maggie Calt (K’72) guitar solo:

Maggie Calt is a niece of B.F. Skinner, one of Hamilton’s more renowned graduates.  In the ’60s, her brother Steven started a roots music record label, well-regarded in its day, called Yazoo.  Before entering Kirkland, Maggie met and learned from some Delta Blues greats (like Skip James and Bukka White) who were old men when Yazoo revived interest in them.  So she brought a guitar style to Kirkland that was not informed (as mine was) by Peter, Paul and Mary .  She introduced me to Robert Johnson, before his work became well-known through Rolling Stone covers.

Maggie was also a French scholar – I recall she did a paper on Robert Johnson and Existentialism – and left campus for France before our senior year.  She later married a French citizen and lived in Africa, when he was stationed in Senegal, in the late ’70s.  Based upon what I found via Google, Maggie still lives in France, working as a freelance translator.

The ’69 broadcast ended with a live (and somewhat over-extended) blues jam, with both Kirkland and Hamilton guitarists going at it to the best of their varying abilities!
H/K Guitar Jam (includes Maggie Calt K’72, Jennie Morris ’72, Richard Marcus H’72, John Mark Garrison H’072,  Greg Ritz H’70, Jim Paisley, S. Bennett, and J. Bilser)

The third folk music audio is of me and a couple of friends – somewhat loosened up, but having fun – perhaps representative of how we entertained ourselves back in the day!
Kirkland Folkies in ’71: Jennie Morris, Sue Shyan Delahanty, Pat McLaughlin Amidon (all K’72)

by Jennie Morris K’72

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alyssa Ross Eppich H'81 permalink
    April 16, 2011 1:19 pm

    Thank you for the lovely memories, Jennifer! HCL was still a vibrant, going concern when I was up on the Hill; now we have Pandora(where I still listen to folk), but it’s a far cry from old Hydrochloric Acid!

    • April 17, 2011 8:07 pm

      We’d love to hear more of your memories too, Alyssa. When I dropped into campus last February, I tuned into 88.7 in time to catch Joplin crooning “Piece of My Heart” and it was like time stood still.

  2. Susan Delahanty permalink
    April 18, 2011 1:52 pm

    Good memories, Jennie!

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