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GREG GOLDEN, DIRECTOR OF STUDENT MEDIA, ROLLINS COLLEGEIf you think running a radio station sounds difficult, or teaching hundreds of college students, Greg Golden is a man who has successfully done both at Rollins College. His soft-spoken leadership and seemingly infinite patience have helped guide eight classes of young adults through their first management and broadcasting experiences.
That's not the only reason we love him.
WPRK 91.5 FM has broadcast from Rollins College since 1952, becoming fully student-run between 1989 and 1991, and eventually airing 24 hours a day. The station's general manager ensures everything is legally compliant and serves as a teacher and supervisor to a team of student managers who control the station's on-air content, underwriting and promotions. Golden's responsibilities as director of student media also include the school's newspaper and literary magazine, The Sandspur and Brushing.
For decades, "the Best in Basement Radio" was indeed headquartered in the subterranean lowest floor of Mills Memorial Hall on campus. Then, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma swept through the school's scenic grounds, damaging the station's antenna beyond repair. For 11 months, WPRK could only be heard online, a dispiriting time for students used to the addictive relevance of sizable audiences and listeners who call the studio line. Finally, in August 2018, WPRK was back on the FM airwaves, but the turbulent times were not over. WPRK's studios and offices also needed to relocate – three times – while the Mills building was demolished and replaced by a brand-new building, Kathleen W. Rollins Hall.
Having been a student DJ himself in the Rollins class of 2011, Golden could relate to his students' feelings of loss and frustration. He set their focus on the years ahead, helping students develop new podcasts, community collaborations and a membership program similar to those of public radio stations. He also kept students involved in the design decisions for the station's new home.
In January, the station's new permanent location finally opened, on the first floor, just a few feet underground. Considering the time and attention the college has devoted to WPRK during Golden's tenure, it's hard to believe the station was almost sold by the college 20 years ago, with only one missing signature by then-president Rita Bornstein saving it for generations of future students and listeners.
At only 32 years old, Greg Golden has already created his legacy at Rollins through the success stories of his students. But his most lasting contribution to the college and community might be in keeping the faith, and excitement, alive during one of WPRK's toughest decades. (wprk.org)
– This story appears in the Feb. 12, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Orlando news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.