At least 100 years ago, Penn had these two radio stations: 88.9 WXPN-FM and 730 WXPN-AM. The FM one was pretty rad, innovative, and all of that stuff. Both stations consisted of educational programming, news and sports coverage, and tame music.
In 1965, things got interesting when WXPN-AM started airing popular music shows, stirring interest among the students. In about three years time, practically the entire programming schedule of XPN was rock. This all happened in Houston Hall.
In 1970, operations moved to 3905 Spruce Street, a move not without problems, but we don’t need to get into that yet. There’s plenty of other more interesting horror stories ahead. Around this time the antenna was moved from the Gates building of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to High Rise South.
Things started getting crazy. XPN fell in with the wrong crowd. To make a long story short, there were several instances of ‘offensive’ material going on-air, including (but not limited to) fake sexual enhancement drug ads, erotic literature, and left-wing conspiracy theories, not to mention the infamous “Vegetable Report,” which was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. The camel, in this case, is the FCC. Unfortunately, XPN’s broadcast license happened to be expiring around this time, and the FCC wouldn’t renew it.
The University wasn’t happy either, and the FM station became entirely professionally run by 1980, while the AM station was still student-run. WXPN-AM became WQHS, and things got bad. Really bad.
SAC cut funding down by several thousand dollars, leaving WQHS with just enough money to fund one hazy trip to McDonald’s every month for food. Meanwhile, XPN did tons of good things for itself with its fancy-shmancy professionals and became 88.5 instead of 88.9, but who cares?
WQHS was totally punk rock. With a shoestring budget, the shadow of its former obscenity, and…and…well, little else, WQHS hit the bottom of the barrel. We were like that guy who spent all of his rent and food money on drugs, but accidentally dropped the drugs down the sewer, and was so desperate that he actually jumped down into the sewer and spent three hours searching for the drugs and drinking the sewer water because it might have remnants of his drugs in it.
Well, yeah, it sucked, but it happens. After some serious self-examination, WQHS came back, stronger than ever. Sort of.
XPN fled east in October of 2004, leaving WQHS with the shell of the 3905 Spruce. It was awful. The rodents…the dust mites…
To add insult to injury, the University decided that since XPN was gone, it didn’t really want WQHS around there, and that Penn Press was more important. Yeah, cool. So we were homeless for a while, and it wasn’t great, but you know what? If you find the right sewer vent, you feel just like you’re in a warm home while you’re asleep. Until you wake up with some other homeless guy spooning you.
We loved him, but we weren’t in love with him.
So after about a semester of not broadcasting and eating termites three times a day, WQHS found its new home in the Hollenback Center, otherwise known as the “Hollerback Center” at 3000 South Street. Pretty neat, right? We think so. Prepare yourself, because we are going to penetrate your ears, and it’s going to be really, really awesome.