HATBORO -- The RDV Radio Network is celebrating 40 years of broadcasting with its annual three-week fund drive beginnng October 18. The public radio station airs live programming seven-days-a-week 24-hours-a-day on the FM dial and the internet. The station is solely listener supported with help from local businesses that serve as non-advertiser sponsors.
The entire staff -- numbering in excess of 60 people -- is made up of volunteers. No one draws a paycheck. This unique station is nestled in a store-front building on York Road and is owned and operated by the Bucks Mont educational Radio Association. The transmitter is located in Warminster, giving it a two-county presence.
Broadcasting over a four-station network (three stations identified as WRDV FM in Warminster/Hatboro, Bensalem and Philadelphia, and WLBS FM serving Bristol-Levittown) and the internet, the RDV signal which is heard worldwide via a streaming signal over www.wrdv.org. Recent information from the internet service suggests in excess of 300,000 tune-ins-per-month around the world.
Originally started in 1976 as the Centennial School District station (WCSD FM) at the direction of School Superintendent Dr. Everett McDonald and District Telecommunications Director David Barner, it was seen as the district voice. When they both left the district interest waned and the station ceased operations in January 1979. At that time the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Station was formed and incorporated in 1979 and ownership was transferred to them late in the year. The FCC granted the transfer in early 1980.
In spring of 1980 the station returned to the air and operated out of the Warminster Township building. Charles Loughery, who is the president of the organization said, “We changed the call letters to WRDV to get rid of any reference to it being a high school station. Most of us were in our early twenties at the time. I was 21 when we put the station back on the air in 1980.” Those pioneers also included Todd Allen (the station VP and General Manager), Ron Michaels (founding president and currently a trustee), Jack Boland (a board member and current air personality) and others no longer involved.
The original idea was that it would be a training ground for young people who wanted to get in to the radio field and over the years many men and women have cut their teeth at RDV and gone on to professional careers.
The station began broadcasting with an adult contemporary format. Old-timers recall that it wasn’t a roaring success. A contemplated switch to rock oldies was in the planning stages but was jettisoned when two major Philadelphia stations (WOGL and WIOQ) beat them to the punch.
Thirty years ago the station adopted a weekday format of Big Band and Swing -- and it was immediately adopted by the listening audience and that continues to this day. It is said that the station’s big band music library of 25,000-plus titles from that era is likely the largest in the business. Ironically many evening shows, and the entire weekend, is now devoted to rock (solid gold) oldies and has generated a large following as well.
Volunteer staffers work one or two shifts-a-week and come from all over the region. The demographics of the staff have changed over the years and more than a few of the current air personalities have worked at other professional stations including WIFI FM, WIBF FM, WBCB AM, WDVR, WXPN, WJBR, B-101, WBUX, WEEZ, ESPN, WMMR, WYSP and others.
Deejays come from all walks of life (some retired, some still working) and currently on-staff are two lawyers, a college professor, two pharmacists, a number of teachers, a fireman, police officers, accountants, salesmen, two professional actors, mechanical engineer, a registered nurse, a nuclear sub and aircraft component inspector, a script writer, a truck driver, deli clerk, cemetery lot salesman, mobile deejays and many more occupations.
The station usually runs an annual disc jockey training school to continue the flow of available hosts. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 class was cancelled. Two new deejays have joined the staff during this time and they were individually trained by current on-air personalities. Hopefully the 2021 class will be held in the spring.
The fund-raising effort will begin October 18 and end on November 8. Listeners will be asked to call the station during the daily shows and make a pledge. A number of “thank you” premiums are available and all will feature a special “40th Anniversary” logo. The on-air number is 215-674-8002 for pledges. Donations can also be done via the station’s website (www.wrdv.org) or by sending a check to WRDV FM, P. O. Box 2012, Warminster PA 18974