Free since ‘73
By Cammie Breuer/ Arts and Culture Editor
For 50 years now radio station 90.9 WMPG has played a huge role in the lives of many Mainers and all of the students who have passed through University of Southern Maine over the years. For those of you who have not tuned into their station, you have probably seen their awesome bumper stickers around the city.
It all started with founder Howard Allan back in 1970, who had a vision to bring music to the Gorham campus, back when USM was the University of Maine Portland/Gorham (UMPG), or better known as POGO. With a lot of determination and ingenuity, Allan and some friends were able to scrape together some spare parts to create radio equipment. Allan then went on to broadcast a pirate version of WMPG out of his dorm room window.
It was not until later that the University approached Allan to help formalize his vision, offering both support and resources. On August 31st, 1973 WPMG went on air, becoming a legal radio station. Since then it has grown exponentially, in 1989 WMPG moved their operations from USM Gorham to the Portland campus. This gave the station the ability to reach even more people in the community.
“Reaching this remarkable milestone is a testament to the passion, commitment, and support of our incredible staff, volunteers, and the community,” said Annella Linton, Development Director. “For 50 years, WMPG has been the voice of Southern Maine, and we are honored to have played a role in the lives of so many individuals. We eagerly look forward to continuing to serve as a vibrant source of entertainment, education, and connection for the community in the years ahead.”
It is through the tremendous support from the USM and Portland community that WMPG receives donations and grants that allow them to consistently give back to their dedicated listeners. Turning on the radio to listen to real people talk about local issues and fun events feels more personal than a podcast or just hitting shuffle on your phone. In an era where music streaming services dominate, it’s important to acknowledge all the hard work and dedication of WMPG employees.
As a way to lead up to the big 50, WMPG brought on former DJ’s throughout the summer. ‘In your Ear’ DJ Deidre Nice, DJ Buzz Poole, and ‘Blue Country’ DJ Blizzard Bob were just a few who were invited on to host alongside DJ Merrill.
On August 31st we gathered at the station’s HQ on Bedford street for a birthday bash. Students and members of the Portland community gathered together to watch the live broadcasting of the event, enjoy some food and birthday cake, and of course listen to some great live music. WMPG’s own Bobby Shadox performed with his band My Blue Monday where they played covers of 80’s new wave classics from bands like the Smiths, the Talking Heads, and New Order.
WMPG Driveway Party/ Courtesy of Will Fudge
This event also gave the unique opportunity to go and chat with some of the DJ’s down at the station. Speaking with a student employee, Emma Brearley, about what the event meant to her. “It’s a good way to give back to the community.” You have probably seen Emma helping out at other WMPG events. You can also catch her on the air every other Friday in her show ‘What’s in my Mind’ where she plays a little bit of everything. You can tune into WMPG anytime through their website www.WMPG.org or through their new app ‘WMPG community radio’.
If you missed this party, fear not, all year long WMPG will be hosting events all year long as a way to celebrate and give back to the community. You can join them on Saturday, October 14th at 6pm in front of the station for a mini parade down to the McGoldrick center where they will show the grand premier of the WMPG film. There will be food, drinks, and of course music.