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​WERG signed-on for the first time at 6 o'clock on the evening of December 1, 1972.  Students would operate the station during the week, and a dedicated staff of community volunteers took the reigns on weekends and holidays - a successful operational structure that still functions today.  The basement of the Zurn Science Center would serve as our primary studio location for 28 years.  In 2000, new street-level facilities were designed in the Walker Building, coinciding with the activation of our world-wide digital stream.  When the Center of Communication and the Arts was dedicated in 2014 and 90.5 WERG moved in, it happily coincided with our recent status as being named Best College Station in America.

The History of WERG Radio

The 1970's

WERG signed-on for the first time the evening of December 1, 1972.  Serving Gannon College with an effective radiated power of 10 watts, the educational purpose of the station was to provide a training ground for students to enter the field of broadcasting.  Father Thomas McSweeney, a professor in the Department of Theatre, was the original Faculty Advisor; student Mark Modlo was the first General Manager.   

Studios were located in the basement of the Zurn Science Center; offices on the 4th floor of Old Main.  Professor Anthony "AJ" Miceli joined the Gannon faculty in 1975 and became advisor to the station. 

Throughout the seventies, students would operate WERG (“The Fine Eighty-Nine”) during the week with an Album Rock format, along with news, informational programming, sports (including the popular Jock Talk show), and even Pittsburgh Pirates baseball.  WERG maintained broadcast operations over the weekends with the help of community volunteers, who ran alternative programming for the Erie community. One of these shows, Super Soul Saturday, has become an institution in Erie radio and an integral part of WERG’s weekend programming schedule. 

On October 19, 1977, general manager Lowman Henry announced that WERG had received authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to increase power to 3000 watts, enabling WERG to serve the entire city of Erie.

Click here to view The History of WERG Radio: The Seventies.

The 1980's

Thanks to the donation of a 3000-watt Westinghouse transmitter from WTAE-FM radio in Pittsburgh (now WKST), and a brand-new Shively antenna mounted atop Nash Library, WERG was now broadcasting with a strong signal throughout the city and into the surrounding communities.  With the technical upgrades came a new position on the FM dial: 89.9.

Throughout the eighties, WERG operated with an Album Rock format under the name "Rock 89." With a familiar weekday schedule, plus Super Soul Saturday, various community programs on Sunday, and a weeknight news magazine show (Total News at Six) WERG became known as an educational station that not only trained you in the mechanics of broadcasting, but let you do so while enjoying the benefits of having an actual sizable listening audience.

By 1988, WERG began evolving from an Album Rock station and started playing New Wave and Alternative Rock.  The station upgraded to a new Henry transmitter and other necessary equipment that allowed WERG to begin broadcasting in FM Stereo by the summer of 1989.

The 1990's

Now with CD technology and a superior FM-stereo signal, station management began augmenting WERG's unique appeal as an alternative rocker--just as that musical format was blossoming with the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam.  Combined with the techno-dance style of artists like New Order and Depeche Mode, the jocks adopted an upbeat presentation on-air, using the moniker Energy-FM 90 throughout the decade.

The station, however, was outgrowing its space in the Zurn basement and needed a new home.  What was envisioned was a street-level facility, encompassing the broadcast studios, production facilities, and station offices, into one central location.  All that was needed was a building: and when the Gannon Bookstore moved into the new Waldron Campus Center, the Walker Building was suddenly vacant..

The 2000's

In September 2000, general manager Alex Knight made the inaugural broadcast from the brand new studios in the Walker Building.  With the new digs came all-new digital equipment: the DigiLink IV from Arrakis Systems.  WERG was now a 24-hour-a-day operation.

The station went global when WERG's stream was activated in 2000: Gannon Radio could now be heard around the globe.

Local broadcaster and Gannon alumnus Chet LaPrice was hired in August 2002 to be the Operations Manager for the station.  

On January 23, 2003, the Prime Time Sports Guys show made its debut and is still part of the WERG schedule. 

The next challenge was to move the station's broadcast antenna to higher ground.  WERG's 3000 watt signal was powerful--but the current antenna location in downtown Erie was below average terrain, resulting in interference and signal drop-outs away from the city.  The FCC approved our application to relocate our antenna to Summit Township, and subsequent move to our current location on the dial.

On June 30, 2005, with General Manger Evan O'Polka on the air at 9:50am, Gannon Radio moved from 89.9 to 90.5-FM.  With a brand new ERI-LPX antenna mounted atop the WQLN transmission tower, 90.5 WERG now had a broadcast footprint covering the entire tri-state region, and could also be heard in southern Ontario.

Funding for major studio upgrades was secured by the end of the decade.  In May 2008, a Wheatstone D7512 digital broadcast console was installed in the studio.  General Manager Clarissa Schneider was on-air December 2, 2009, when the new digital computer control system from Wide Orbit Automation for Radio went on-line.

The 2010's