The BIG news at WGLS-FM......

The BIG news at WGLS-FM......

Frank Hogan is an encyclopedia of local radio. At the drop of a hat, the Rowan Radio general manager can spout off an endless list of long-forgotten call letters of stations as well as the disc jockeys who manned them.

Hogan has been in radio more than 30 years, and helped in the transformation of WGLS-FM (89.7), which from 1964 to 1991 was a student-run, low-power outfit that had a range of "maybe three miles."

On Nov. 1, Hogan was awarded the March of Dimes Achievement in Radio Milestone Award. The awards are given to those in local radio for their "professionalism, contributions to the industry and longevity," characteristics of which Hogan is in no short supply.

Hogan, 56, was born and raised in Philadelphia. He can trace the beginning of his career to the 1960s, when he would hang around station WIBG-AM (960), where Hy Lit and Joe Niagara reigned.

"Everybody listened to WIBG," said Hogan, who now lives in Washington Township, "and they let me play in the studio on the weekends."

Hogan got his first full-time radio job as chief engineer at WYSP-FM (94.1). From there he oversaw the transformation of WUSL-FM (Power 99) in 1973 to its current format. In 1977 he went to work at WFIL-AM (560), where he stayed for 10 years before leaving for a startup station broadcasting from Hammonton.

"I have never had a career path," Hogan said

While Hogan was working at WFIL, DJ Long John Wade did a student appearance at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University.

"Long John Wade had traveled with the Beatles so he was a big deal," Hogan said. "I didn't know where Glassboro was. Never heard of it. I thought it was a place where Jesus lost his shoes."

While Wade was on campus, Mike Donovan, then adviser to WGLS, asked him if he knew anybody who could help build WGLS' new studios. Wade recommended Hogan for the job.

As Hogan was building the studio, he began to enjoy the academic environment and started teaching. Hogan taught three classes a semester from 1977 to 1991, when Rowan offered him the chance to work full-time as chief engineer. A family man with a wife and children, Hogan decided he would "try it for a year."

That year has turned into 16 at Rowan, where the student-run station is now a factory for radio talent with 70 to 100 students, alums, and community volunteers - all of whom Hogan knows by name.

"They're like a family," Hogan said, quickly pointing out that the radio station is successful because of the dedication and professionalism of the students.

"It's much more professional [today]. Whoever is working at the station is prepared to go into commercial radio when they graduate," said Sammy "Pepper" Bonavita, a longtime DJ who hosts The Beatles Brunch Club on Saturdays.

"Most of the places I've worked at haven't been run as well as WGLS," said Victor Sosa, an alum who is the overnight DJ for WLTW-FM (106.7), the top-rated radio station in New York City.

Many students and staff believe the station's strict seven-week training program is the reason for the professional atmosphere.

"The people that make it through training really want to be here," said rock director Omarey Williams, "and that's one of the cool things about it."

Hogan believes the station has reached prominence in the region and wishes to focus future efforts in improving distribution by means of new technology such as Internet streaming, high definition radio, and podcasts. He hopes that with high definition he can diversify Rowan Radio into several channels such as sports, public service, and music.

"For the first time in my life I feel over my head," he said.

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Date Published: Sunday, January 28, 2007 (All day)
Source URL: The Philadelphia Inquirer