The award-winning, student-run radio station WONC-FM 89.1 celebrates its 50th anniversary on May 11, 2018.
The celebration will kick off at 10 a.m. both inside and out on the lawn of Oliver Hall, 232 E. Chicago Ave., the station's home since it moved from Old Main in 1985. The event’s master of ceremonies will be James Godo ‘93, North Central’s assistant vice president for external affairs, special assistant to the president and alumnus of the station.
The celebration coincides with the retirement of general manager John Madormo, who has helmed the station for the past 38 years.
“Making the decision to retire from North Central College the same year that WONC was celebrating its 50th anniversary seemed only fitting,” said Madormo. “Over the years, my greatest joy has been witnessing the transition of hundreds of very green, young students into very polished, mature broadcasters.”
Many radio station alumni will be attending the event, and students from each decade will be sharing their experiences on air during the 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. runtime.
Philip Duncan ’71 was instrumental in founding WONC, working to put together an application to the FCC for an FM frequency in 1968. Duncan has gone on to be a prolific commercial actor and voiceover professional. He has appeared in commercials for 5/3 Bank, AT&T, and a Sales Genie ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Ron Smith ’75 was on the staff when the station won the Billboard Magazine College Radio Station of the Year. He went on to be the music director of former oldies station WJMK 104.3.
Anne Hengehold ’85 was the station manager during her senior year, and was recognized by the College as the Outstanding Senior Women at the Honors Convocation. Following graduation, she went on to be an on air personality at WLIT for 15 years.
Scott Werhli ’91 helped get funding for computers at the AP news desk in the station, and since graduating has generously given space for the station’s transmitter on his company’s tower for the last 20 years. Now, Werhli serves as a member of the North Central College Board of Trustees.
Laura Botten ’08 has gone on to have a successful career at US99, working as an on air host and production editor.
Russ Tanzillo ’15 was the station manager when WONC received the award for the top college radio station in the country in 2015. He can be heard on air at WKQX.
A broadcast communication major, Brandon Herman ’20 is slotted to be the student station manager next year and has worked to digitize WONC’s cassette archives to be featured in an audio documentary that will be aired during the celebration.
“WONC has an astounding legacy,” said Brandon. “It has a history arguably rivaled by no other college radio station in the nation.”
Having worked at WLTL-FM 88.1, a high school radio station in La Grange, Brandon decided to attend North Central after Madormo reached out to him and invited him for a visit to campus.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to the student pioneers of the sixties and seventies who laid a foundation of excellence in place at WONC before I arrived,” said Madormo. “I only hope that I can do the same for my successor.”