Muhlenberg College, WMUH ring out at Libety Bell Museum
Two anniversaries significant to Muhlenberg College and its iconic radio station WMUH are being celebrated in two gallery exhibitions through Oct. 31 at the Liberty Bell Museum, Zion’s Church, 622 W. Hamilton St., Allentown.
“Towards a Greater Muhlenberg: The Evolution of Muhlenberg College 1848-2018” traces the 170-year history of the college from its inception as the Allentown Seminary, Fourth and Walnut streets, Allentown, through the school’s relocation to Allentown’s West End, and its transformation to a modern, coeducational liberal arts college.
Among the historical artifacts and images in the college exhibit is a circa 1860 photograph of the Lutheran seminary that encapsulated James Allen’s former colonial summer home. James was the third son of William Allen, the founder of Allentown. The house was restored to its original 1770 appearance after being acquired by the city.
Also on display are photographs of students enrolled in the Navy’s V-12 officer training program during World War II and a ledger listing many of those trainees with their infractions such as “In sack after reveille.”
Photographs of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1942 visit to the campus are next to the letter sweater worn by Class of ’43 graduate Paul Candalino. According to Liberty Bell Museum Manager Stephanie Burke, Candalino died when the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in 1945.
A women’s blazer belonging to Class of ’62 graduate Lona Farr is displayed alongside yearbooks, photos and ephemera, including arts festival and theater programs.
“WMUH: 70 Years on the Air with the Only Station that Matters” in the museum’s Trexler Gallery spotlights the evolution of Muhlenberg’s student-run radio station.
During Muhlenberg’s centennial year, a group of 10 college students formed a radio club with a $25 operating budget. With George Pappas as station manager, they began broadcasting to the campus dormitories as AM station WMUH for three hours a week.
In 1964, WMUH debuted on FM, enabling the campus station to broadcast to the Lehigh Valley. In 1981 community members were invited to participate in the programming. Staffed by students and community volunteers, WMUH 91.7 FM is in its 70th year broadcasting 24-7 to a potential 1.1 million listeners.
Memorabilia displayed includes mugs, buttons, bumper stickers, Frisbees, album tote bags, concert poster art by Mark Klee and Steve Wilt, and a quilt made with WMUH T-shirts by Class of 1980 alumna Barbara Haaf Stauffer.
Gallery hours: Noon - 4 p.m. Monday - Saturday, Noon - 4 p.m. second Sunday; libertybellmuseum.org; 610-435-4232