Over five decades of WONC-FM 89.1, the music format, the hours on air, studio location and technologies for reporting news and broadcasting sports events have continued to evolve.
Yet for the alumni of WONC, there are more than enough commonalities to unite them—the valuable experiences, lasting friendships and close mentoring that shaped their lives both personally and professionally.
At the station’s 50th anniversary celebration, these shared memories served to strengthen the bonds among the dozens of alumni who attended. The celebratory live broadcast on May 11 on the lawn of Oliver Hall gave them a chance to reflect on the five flights of stairs in Old Main, the teletype machine, disastrous shifts and winning awards, and most frequently, the fun of being part of the WONC family. Many alumni credited their successes in life to their time at WONC.
For 38 of those 50 years, John Madormo, now professor of broadcast communication emeritus, was at the helm of WONC. As alumni shared their experiences during different eras at the station, they emphasized the impact Madormo had on their lives. They talked of his willingness to allow mistakes, his generosity with his time to counsel on professional as well as personal matters and his confidence in their work.
“John had super powers to see things in his students,” said Laura Botten ’08, production manager at WUSN-FM US99 in Chicago. “Your support has meant everything to me and I credit you for my success.”
Madormo acknowledged that he came to WONC from WGN in 1980 intending to stay for a short time to gain station management experience. But the magic of mentoring and teaching soon changed his heart. “I found I really enjoyed watching young people come in green and leave as polished professionals. It has been very gratifying.”