Getting to Know Radio Vibes – WPKN, 89.5
by Billy Cliff
Welcome back VibeTribe! We’re days away now, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce you to Radio Vibes. For those of you who don’t already know, we partner with Bridgeport’s listener supported, non-commercial broadcast station, WPKN. Once in the greater Fairfield or New Haven counties, you’ll find Radio Vibes broadcasting from 89.5 on your radio dial. Tune in as you make your way towards to Seaside Park, and you’ll hear all kinds of important traffic information about the ingress into Seaside Park, schedule and weather info, and more. Our regular morning show hosts, David Golden and Gordon Taylor will be broadcasting from 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. In fact, they’ve offered a moment of their time to speak with us about the history of Radio Vibes and what services it will be providing for you, the VibeTribe, throughout the weekend.
Bill Clifford – Tell us about the origins of Radio Vibes? What was the first year Vibes had a radio program?
Gordon Taylor – “It came about as a result of having attended other festivals where there were little power FM radio Stations. I got a hold of a low power FM transmitter in 2006 when the festival was at Indian Lookout Country Club,, and began broadcasting the stage music to some of the folks at the campsites. Hardly anybody knew about it at the time, probably maybe twenty people listening at the time, if that? When we moved to Bridgeport, there really wasn’t an opportunity to use a low power FM signal, so, we were looking around at various stations that we could work with to carry the signal, and WPKN became a natural choice. “
David Gordon – “I’d actually called Ken Hays in 2007 when vibes came back to Seaside Park, and I asked how WPKN could be involved. And he replied that he was working with Gordon Taylor and that he’d like WPKN to be Vibes radio partner. He put Gordon and I in touch and that’s the beginning of WPKN’s involvement in Radio Vibes.”
GT – “WPKN, because of the fact that they are so independent, financially, we felt it was a great choice to pair up with WPKN, you know, seeing that so many in the Dead Head community can be somewhat independent minded. It seems to work out really well.”
BC – What kind of programming will be going on throughout the weekend? Will there be artist interviews?
DG – “There will be a variety of programming, including as much music from the stage as we are able to get on the air, subject of artist agreement. We will have interviews with some of the artists as well as with some of the non-profit organizations. Also, a lot of interview montages with the VibeTribe. There is also the possibility of some live performances in our little on site studio.”
GT – “We usually start out the weekend with a little quote from Ken over the radio. We always try to bring a vignette of the festival itself. We try to paint a picture of what’s going on at the festival, for the radio. One of the most popular questions we’ve asked in the past is, ‘What’s for dinner?’ Janet Gordon (David’s Wife) will go around with a microphone and she’ll just start asking people what they’re getting ready for dinner on Saturday night. That’s always seemed to be really popular and we get some great answers and she’s always good at drawing out from them what they’re doing and able to create that picture that we’re hoping to give to the user about what we’re seeing and what’s going on at the festival.”
BC – What should Vibes fans do in the case of Inclement Weather? What kind of info will they find in turning in to your broadcast?
GT – “We are in constant contact with our production team, who is in contact with weather stations and the national weather service. There is a requirement in place that says that if there are so many lightning strikes within a certain radius within a certain time period that we have to clear the concert field.”
DG – “The best example of that is actually what we had to do in 2008 and 2009 when we had some heavy electrical storms come through Seaside Park. We were able to provide safety announcements to the audience and let them know the stage was shutting down and if you were in the campsites to stay there and to secure their stuff and then we’d let them know the weather was coming through. And then we’d give them the all clear when the stage would be open again. In the case of ’09 it happened during moe.’s set, the headliner on the main stage, so we shut down the main stage for the night, but we let them know when the late night stage was going to be starting up.”
BC – Can each of you share a fond memory or two of past vibes, things that may have happened over the air, that struck a chord?
GT – “I particularly remember, I believe it was in 2007 radio Vibes, when Wavy Gravy wed a couple. We were able to capture all of that and then play it back live music or on the air. We’ve had several weddings at Vibes in fact. And these people have gone on to have children and bring them to Vibes, and that’s always a wonderful thing. To be able to capture it on the radio and then to play it back shortly there after, and then to send the couple a recording itself. It’s nice to be able to give back in a very direct way; to me, that is one of my fondest memories of Vibes. And of course the first time a Grateful Dead member played the festival – Phil Lesh, 2002, I believe – that was a wonderful year.”
DG – “Yeah, one happened last year, when the Kind Buds stopped by our trailer and played a short set of music live on the air. It was one of those blazing hot days; before they started, I thought we should shut off the trailer air conditioner because it was making a distracting hum that we didn’t want going out over the air. They got through one song, and everybody was like … ‘You know, we’d better turn that air conditioner back on!’ That was probably one of my favorite WPKN memories.”
BC – Any Final Thoughts? What else should the VibeTribe know about Radio Vibes?
GT – “We’re also a source for info on your way in, that’s important. If you tune in to 89.5 FM as you approach the area, you will get traffic information, and we also try to give fans the amount of time it takes to go through the search, the ingress. We have spotters and people there cooperating with us, reporting exactly how long it’s taken them to get through from the time that they are stuck in traffic getting off the highway, to the time that they get to their campsite. We also go over the do’s and don’ts, Thursday or Friday especially, so that you have an idea of what they’re going to be looking for when they do there search. You know, like things like No Glass! If you’ve not read the website, or somehow missed that basic conditional rule, you can at least stop off and transfer your liquids into something that’s plastic or non glass, we try hard to give that kind of service the first couple of days as well. And we do a lost and found for children. We work very closely with the Children’s Tent to create a messaging system for lost children and their parents, that’s also a key part of what we do.”
So there ya have it, that’s the skinny on Radio Vibes. Again, you may tune into WPKN, 89.5 on your tuner on Thursday morning while making your trip into Seaside Park for all kinds of useful information. We’re looking forward to another fantastic GOTV and can’t wait for you all to join us.