WIXQ celebrates 50 year anniversary on the airwaves of Millersville University. Photos courtesy of Ralph Anttonen.

Josh Rittberg
Arts & Culture Editor

For 50 years, WIXQ has been delighting listeners with fresh student voices and good music. Yet, the program has also brought along with the music a greater beat of family and community to all who have had the honor of stepping into the studio and being a part of this special station. According to sophomore DJ, Molly Dorsey, “WIXQ is a family of all different people coming together for their love of music and radio.” It’s story as a station goes all the way back to the 1960s. The history of the program has as much resonance as the station itself. As WIXQ is more than a radio station  but a cultural home. 

            Ralph Anttonen or “Doc Roc” as he is affectionately known as at WIXQ, remembers in 1967 the idea of a radio club first coming into fruition. The station was originally visioned by Dr. V. Anthony Champa, the director of Millersville’s Director of Audiovisual Instructional services as “Having a range of approximately 50 miles and employing students for its operation. The station was to be primarily used for instructional and communication performances with limited entertainment programming. In its early days, the station went under the name, WMSR as an AM station. It wasn’t until the year 1977 when the station transferred over to an FM radio signal and became the WIXQ that the campus knows today. 

Ralph Anttonen (Doc Roc) with his wife Judy

            The year 1977 was also the year where Doc Roc began his time at WIXQ. He originally was a part of the station under its old name as a disc jockey. He was spotted by the program director at the time, J.J Williams who was impressed by Doc’s confidence under the microphone at a school dance which Doc was disc jockeying at. Williams eventually offered Doc a show with the radio station. This was before it made the move to FM. Although initially a bit hesitant, Doc began his show from 1:00-4:00 in the afternoon. He got his legendary nickname one day when Williams said to Doc that he was “the Duke of Soul.” To that, Doc said back, “then I am the Doc of Rock.” From there an affectionate nickname was born. Later in 1977, Doc would take over as the station advisor from current advisor of the time, Gary Reighard. This new position for Doc was a start of a WIXQ legacy as his time as the WIXQ advisory lasted decades up until 2012.

            Dr. Woodall who currently holds the position of faculty advisor  says that it is “An all-encompassing job.” “There are many pieces attached to it such as getting fund and plans for managing new radio equipment, signing off on documents for funds in the station, working with the station engineer to make sure that all FCC materials are taken care of correctly, along with other technical aspects such as contracts for the station such as music publishing rights. “ The station manager also deals with more human aspects of the station such as  solving conflicts and planning events for WIXQ. Woodall says that “I like to think of myself as an advocate, I advocate for the students, I advocate for the DJ’s, it is almost a pseudo paternal role.” All through the moving parts of the position Woodall says that “you try to wear all those hats as best you can.” Since he has started advising at WIXQ, Woodall feels that “We have grown a lot just in terms of the number of people that are at the station.” 

            Dr. Woodall in his time at  WIXQ wanted to make sure that “There was a higher profile for the station around campus.” That means “Getting involved with other student organizations on campus, cosponsoring activities with them making sure that the station is there at Admin student expos or student organization outbreak events and doing things like having booths at homecoming and other major  events on campus.” These outreach efforts have helped the station grow in visibility and in numbers as the station typically tends to have anywhere around 75-85 students in the organization.”

Student in WIXQ studio

            WIXQ has grown in numbers and visibility, yet it is also just as important to remember WIXQ’s beginnings.  Doc Roc was there for WIXQ’s first ever FM show under the station name WIXQ in 1977, and was there for when WIXQ first began broadcasting 24 hours a day in 1979. He even had his wife Judy become his permanent engineer for his time in the station. This later lead to their radio show together, “Doc Roc and Mama’s Oldies show’ that still airs today. Into the 1980s, WIXQ saw a boom in college radio when the station went from a 10 to 100 Watt radio station. Eventually the station even went to a 150 watt power allowing WIXQ to reach listeners from farther than ever before. 

Other responsibilities Doc Roc had to deal with as a WIXQ advisor himself was renewing the station in 1984 for a seven year period, the condition of the station itself, and in an exciting instance, being there for when the station first went online in March of 1996. He also saw the station go to convention for the first time in the 1980s. Doc Roc built relationships with all involved that still even extend to today with the current crop of DJ’s. He was the one who set the precedent for the station and has seen it in all the amazing developments that it has done in the past couple decades. 

            Dr. Woodall as an advisor has been trying to advance the station while still trying to maintain its core sense of community. He has taken the initiative to get students to conferences every year which gives students a chance to meet others at different universities and find inspiration in how they can improve their own work in the station. A show is also done on campus whether that is a spring concert or event that brings the station into the public more.  He also changed the funding model in 2015 which provided for “A much more consistent and reliable funding system for the station.” A big factor for Dr. Woodall is consistency. He wants programming that “people will always look forward to.” Woodall as the new faculty advisor on WIXQ is one of the links helping to keep the station alive and strong.

WIXQ has brought student radio to Millersville for decades.

The student Dj’s also are a major factor in keeping this station alive for fifty years.  The students have also advocated greatly for keeping the stations’ legacy alive. Millersville senior Shane Garcia says that “In October of 2018, WIXQ celebrated its 50th Anniversary – and leadin up – I wanted to highlight those who were involved throughout those 50 Years. Since I came to Millersville… I invited back Alumni to the station to participate in interviews about their time at WIXQ. It was so rewarding seeing every single alum step foot back into their old stomping grounds, reliving their fondest memories, all with a smile on their face.” For Garcia it was all about  “Highlighting those who made an impact on the station and shaped it into what it is today.” Other events such as this semesters’ WIXQ Day was another way of celebrating WIXQ and what it means to this campus. The students are a great part of what keeps this station thriving.

            Dr. Woodall hopes that when turning on WIXQ that the students “Hear themselves on the air, to hear their culture on the air, to hear voices that sound like them, to hear people who have had experiences that are like them.” He wants “The full diversity of the university to be expressed through that radio station.” Through diverse voices and one of a kind programming, WIXQ has prospered through fifty years through good times and bad, and has turned into the Millersville landmark that it is today. The legacy Doc Roc left on this campus Is kept alive through events like the 50th anniversary and WIXQ day as the station advances into the future with a great sense of family and heart for all involved. The station serves as a light for the campus and as a symbol of how with commitment and love,  a community can be built.