1940 WSRN Licensed by FCC
Swarthmore's radio station began in 1919 as an amateur radio club consisting mainly of students and faculty in the engineering department. In 1940, students built their own AM radio equipment and plugged their signal into the College power supply. As The Phoenix wrote eight years later, "The net result is that promptly every lamp cord, desk lamp, lightbulb, razor, and, for all we know, pants presser, becomes part of SN's antenna. Wherever there's electricity, there's SN."
Licensed by the FCC that year, the station received the call letters W3AJ. When station call letters were standardized in 1947, the letters WSRN were chosen for the Swarthmore Radio Network. In addition to primarily classical music recordings and faculty interviews, early shows included one-act radio plays and broadcasts of campus speakers, chorus performances, home games, and occasional concerts in Philadelphia. Among its archives is the first recording of music written by Peter Schickele '57, who created the persona "P.D.Q. Bach" to wide acclaim.
The station's physical location migrated from various basements to Trotter Hall to the fifth, and then third, floor of Parrish Hall. The station evolved from carrier current, where the signal is carried through the power lines into the dorms, to AM broadcast, to FM stereo broadcast, and achieved its current 110 watts of power in 1979.
During the academic year, listen live to WSRN.