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- Professor Alan Frank - WMLN, Radio/Audio Production
Professor Alan Frank - WMLN, Radio/Audio Production
In the summer of 1977, the #1 hit on the radio was 'Gonna Fly Now,' the theme to the Oscar-winning 'Rocky,' a film about a small-time boxer who challenges the champion of the world to take the next big step in his career.
Ironically, that same summer, a burgeoning college radio station took the next big step in its evolution by hiring a man who would help the program soar to its greatest heights and challenge the region's most touted college radio programs over the next 38 years and counting.
Professor Alan Frank came to Curry College after years of working as a disk jockey and station manager for various National Public Radio outlets. Frank was on hand during the birth of NPR - THE innovator of modern day public radio programming, whose content now reaches all 50 states and 150 countries and counting.
Frank's passion for radio actually blossomed at another college radio station, San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University - Northridge). With a booming voice made for radio, a drive to succeed and a desire for teaching others, Frank took his skills on the road, making successful career stops at both college and professional radio stations in Arkansas, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Kentucky.
"Those days were so much fun, especially being on the ground floor of NPR. And not only was I teaching along the way, I was always learning something new about the industry."
With a legacy of broadcasting stretching back to the early 1930s and the dawn of radio, Curry College launched its new FM station WMLN in 1975 with radio industry savvy Frank overseeing the transition into a new era.
"I inherited a groundwork which was laid for decades by my predecessor, the late Roger Allan Bump, and we just took it from there," Frank recalls.
Radio was always a popular draw, but with the advent of WMLN and arrival of Prof. Frank, the station's student complement jumped significantly from a dozen or so students to just under a hundred per academic year.
The station is run like a professional radio station. Frank employs students as station managers, program directors, and there are a variety of positions available in any number of focused areas, including music, production, promotion, engineering, news, and sports. Students can jump right in the minute they step on campus.
Students not only benefit from acquiring hands-on skills, but they walk away from Curry with more confidence and a better understanding of what it's like to work in teams, resolve issues and meet deadlines - skills which can be translated easily into any industry or position they choose after college.
"I tell my managers all the time, 'What you learn about radio is important, but the real challenge is learning to interact with and lead others in a real world work setting.' And at the station, they are exposed to that on a daily basis."
Frank's formula has produced exceptional results for decades. Since 1988, when WMLN was first recognized by the Associated Press, Curry College has garnered over 40 AP Awards, including 'Station of the Year.'
"We're a relatively small college radio station in size compared to some of the larger schools in the region, and year to year we face some major competition. But we are always in the mix, and actually one year we won more awards than any other college radio station in New England. That's unheard of."
Although Curry's broadcast signal reach is about 40 miles, the station's streaming signal reaches audiences in several countries in Europe and Asia. From LPs to 8-tracks, cassettes to DVDs, broadcasting to streaming, WMLN has consistently kept up with the technology of the times.
"The College and our donors have supported us so well through all of the changes and upgrades we've needed to make over the years. Now our students not only have opportunities to work in broadcasting, but with streaming technology so prevalent, they can work at places like Spotify and Pandora."
Celebrating its 40th year as an FM station in 2015, WMLN hosted a reunion on campus for anyone and everyone who's had a part in the success of the Curry College radio program.
"What a great party!," exclaims Frank. "We had dozens of alums and friends of the station return to campus, it was wild!"
Some of the alums on hand that night were Frank's former WMLN public affairs director Jordan Rich '80, who hosts 'The Jordan Rich Show' on WBZ News Radio 1030. Former Curry station manager Ken Carberry '80 is now one of the most respected radio producers in Boston, whose resume includes voiceover artist, news reporter, disc jockey, traffic reporter and talk show host. Susan Griffin '80, former WCVB-TV assignment editor for 25 years, was also in attendance.
The night was also a reflection of the legacy of Frank, the leader of a vital part of the Curry College experience for the past five decades - a program which continues to reach new heights.
"My soul is here. It's part of me. It's like having a big family with over 2,000 kids," beams Frank. "It is a successful program, and its history is something that I, the College, and the all of the students who have graced the hallways of WMLN can be proud of."
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