We had the party for WUOG’s last official day on air in Memorial Hall last night. The execs brought up food (but no forks!) and bit by bit, more alumni started drifting in.
For me, it’s fascinating to speak with past disc jockeys and staff. Sometimes we tend to forget that the world did not begin the day we were born. So it is with WUOG.
WUOG was founded 36 years ago atop Memorial Hall. From reports, all the jockeys had was the dj booth which is roughly the size of the normal person’s closet plus some change. Taking up the rest of the space was a little newspaper by the name of the Red & Black.
In the early 80s, the station saw a lot of controversy. The Red and Black moved out, WUOG took possession of the 5th floor, pissed off a bunch of bigwigs in UGA’s administration and got fired. Everyone on the staff save two people were fired from WUOG! This was circa 1981ish.
Around this time, a few local bands began to play in a small room that was, until last night, our large vinyl collection. Bands like the Squalls, Love Tractor, and the Side Effects would come up and record stuff that we would later broadcast. WUOG began to host more concerts and soon became known as a local musician’s sanctuary.
Some of the alumni recounted how Peter Buck would race up the five flights of stairs with a freshly recorded cart like “Pilgrimage” or “Catapult” and then just hang out for ages.
“We didn’t really think much about it then,” said one alum. “Looking back now, it was something really special.”
And that’s what WUOG still is. Very special. We don’t play hitmakers or popular music. Our philosophy is to stick up for the bands, especially local ones, that don’t get heard all the time. And yeah, we still have random band people take the elevator (cause we have one now) and run in with a fresh cd that they’ve recorded. Who knows who the next Peter Buck could be?
What makes WUOG work is the fact that it’s like a community. Yeah, we have our heads that we refer to (or in my case, beg forgiveness from afterwards) and our little “rules from UGA”. But anyone who’s been on top of that roof and looked at the stars knows that some rules are worth breaking. And more than a few of us have used the station as a crashpad for when our roommates got to be too much.
So at the party we all got a chance to say an official goodbye along with a song. I chose Pylon’s “Cool.” Pylon got me into this whole Athens music mess and I thank them. So I said my piece and signed off. Then, at midnight, everyone gathered around the mic one last time and said “90.5 FM is WUOG Athens” and played “Chicago,” the first song ever on our airwaves. Then we all picked a switch, turned off the lights, and locked the door.
We’ll be in the Tate center come January. But there’s still two more broadcasts going out from the 5th floor. A live band on Monday and, most likely the last thing from Memorial, an interview/dj shift with Mike Mills of R.E.M. Talk about a send off.
I’ll miss it. The Memorial Hall location has something about it. Randall Bramblett called it a soul, others call it a vibe. I called it “home.”