1974: Rush-Henrietta Takes to the Airwaves

  • George Michel’s dream came true when he turned on the radio nearly 50 years ago.

    We’re not talking about the late pop icon, George Michael, who entertained us with songs such as “Careless Whisper” and “Faith.” No, we are referring to our own George Michel, the one-time Rush-Henrietta elementary school teacher who later became a driving force behind the creation of the district’s longtime former radio station, WRHR.

    Broadcasting live from what is now known as Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, WRHR - shorthand for Rush-Henrietta Radio - first appeared on the airwaves in 1974. Listeners within five miles could tune in to the 10-watt station by setting their dials to 90.5 FM.

    According to the October 23, 1974, Henrietta Weekly Journal, “The airing fulfills a dream of Mr. George Michel, the Technical Director of the station. Mr. Michel had proposed a radio station as far back as the early 1960s.” Other adults were involved, as well. Jerry Turner was faculty advisor who helped students learn more about different aspects of radio, including broadcasting and programming. In addition, Stanley Katz, who was the district’s multimedia center director, supervised the operation of the station.

    Aspiring radio stars had the support of at least one local media outlet. Michael Morgan, news director at 1180 WHAM radio, shared this message at the time of WRHR’s debut: “We here at WHAM are most concerned about developing broadcasting skills among young people, in the interest of the future of our industry. Therefore, we are happy to grant permission for WRHR to record and rebroadcast newscasts from the American Information Radio Service of ABC.”

    In 1985, WRHR was acquired by Monroe One BOCES. Two years later, it was renamed WBER, a nod to the idea of BOCES Educational Radio. At that time, the station expanded to 2,500 watts. Michael Burns, a teacher who helped to oversee the station, told the Rochester Times Union the on-air experience was open to all. In that February 28, 1985, story, he explained: “We have students who are almost professional all the way down to a student who has a reading disability and is doing the best he can.” The goal was for all students involved to gain confidence.

    The audio found by clicking here is courtesy of 1980 R-H grad, Bill Darron. It is a recording of a live WRHR broadcast featuring the 1980 Section V Champion Rush-Henrietta Roth Royals vs. the Section IV Champion Binghamton North Indians. Timothy Griffin and Richard Griswold were on the call.

    While WRHR no longer broadcasts from Rush-Henrietta, its legacy remains strong. In an upcoming post, we will hear directly from Darron, who worked at the station during high school and has shared memories from that formative time of life. We are grateful to Bill for providing the photo that accompanies today’s post.

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