Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ronald "Ron" Allen Pen, October 9, 2008

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Teaching career

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay so, um, I'm Mick Jeffries and, uh, I'm working on this oral history project which is, um, the history of the beginnings of...

Segment Synopsis: Pen reflects upon his teaching career, focusing upon his time as an assistant professor of music at the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: American music; Blues; British blues; Classes; Electives; Lexington (Ky.); WRFL

Subjects: Assistant professor; College radio stations; Culture; Jazz; Music; Professor; Radio stations; Rock music; Students; University of Kentucky

00:05:11 - Students and WRFL

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Partial Transcript: Did you, um--to tie this back around to WRFL, um, a lot of times what I do is I ask people when the first time was they heard about the station...

Segment Synopsis: Pen characterizes students that he had in his classes who worked at WRFL. Some of the alumni of WRFL and their respective careers are also mentioned.

Keywords: Alumni; Classes; Connections; Lexington (Ky.); Punk music; WRFL

Subjects: Administration; College radio stations; Friendship; Music; Musicians; Radio stations; Rock music; Students; University of Kentucky

00:12:05 - Earliest memory of WRFL / Programming

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Partial Transcript: What is your earliest recollection of, of, of encountering WRFL on any level?

Segment Synopsis: Pen recalls his earliest memory of WRFL and its programming. Additionally, Pen compares the programming of WRFL to that of other alternative radio stations in other American cities.

Keywords: Classical music; Community; Eclectic; Formats; Interviews; Kentucky Kernel (newspaper); Lexington (Ky.); NPR; New Orleans (La.); Playlists; Programming; Student senates; WRFL; WUKY

Subjects: Administration; Alternative radio broadcasting; Appalshop Film & Video; College radio stations; National Public Radio (U.S.); Radio stations; Students; Travel; University of Kentucky

00:20:51 - Favorite early programming / Music today

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Partial Transcript: Are there, are there things that you recall hearing in the very earliest days...

Segment Synopsis: Pen lists some of his favorite programming from WRFL during its first years on the air. Following this, Pen briefly assesses the role of WRFL and radio in general within the music industry today.

Keywords: Blues; Lexington (Ky.); MTV; New Orleans (La.); Punk music; Visual; WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Jazz; Radio; Radio stations; Rock music; Technology; University of Kentucky

00:25:06 - WRFL and the university / Students

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Partial Transcript: Any, any thoughts about the impact of the, um, appearance of WRFL on the sort of UK landscape?

Segment Synopsis: Pen considers how integrated WRFL became into the University of Kentucky. The location of WRFL in the student center is briefly discussed. Additionally, Pen describes the types of students that tend to take an interest in WRFL.

Keywords: Acceptance; Community; Lexington (Ky.); Locations; Majors; Music professors; Student centers; Support; WRFL

Subjects: Architecture; Broadcasting; Budget; College radio stations; Finance; Impact; Journalism; Professors; Radio stations; Socialization; Students; University of Kentucky

00:33:05 - President Singletary and WRFL / Programming / Educational value

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Partial Transcript: It is interesting though because, you know, when--if we get back to the--to, you know--here we are at the School of Music...

Segment Synopsis: Pen briefly talks of the support for WRFL provided by former University of Kentucky president Otis Singletary. Subsequently, Pen describes the programming that WRFL typically broadcasts. Next, Pen explains the educational value that WRFL provides for university students.

Keywords: Classical music; Financing; Fundraising; Internships; Lexington (Ky.); Media; News; Opportunities; Otis Singletary; University administration; University presidents; Variety; WRFL; WUKY

Subjects: College radio stations; Concerts; Contemporary music; Education; Growth; Management; Music; National Public Radio (U.S.); Radio stations; Students; University of Kentucky

00:40:11 - Importance of radio

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Partial Transcript: What is your sense--you mentioned, um, you mentioned the station in New Orleans...

Segment Synopsis: Pen chronicles the impact of local radio station Appalshop upon the Appalachia region, specifically how it bridged the gap between prisoners (mostly from urban areas) and prison workers (mostly from rural Kentucky) in newly-built federal prisons through the playing of hip hop music. This is compared to the role that WRFL plays in an increased acceptance of diversity in Lexington.

Keywords: Appalachia; Coal industry; Community; Connection; Diversity; Errors; Federal prisons; Lexington (Ky.); Place; Styles; Virginia; WRFL

Subjects: Appalshop, Inc; Authentic; College radio stations; Radio stations; Reality; Unemployment; University of Kentucky

00:48:03 - People in WRFL / Competition

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Partial Transcript: And I was going to ask you, you know, what, if any, quality you thought sort of bound together the type of people who historically have become involved in the radio station.

Segment Synopsis: Pen discusses the types of people who tend to work at WRFL. Additionally, Pen briefly talks of the emergence of satellite radio, and the implications it has for WRFL.

Keywords: "Free spirits"; Lexington (Ky.); WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Discoveries; Generations; Music; Radio stations; Satellite radio services; Staff; Students; University of Kentucky

00:50:38 - Bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: Um, I want you to talk a little bit about--or maybe to go back a little bit to...

Segment Synopsis: Pen explores the evolution of Bluegrass music in Kentucky. Pen also emphasizes the importance of WRFL playing Bluegrass music to maintain the tradition of this music genre in Central Kentucky. The reemergence of Bluegrass music locally (in Lexington) is also mentioned.

Keywords: Audiences; Community; Diversity; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Nashville (Tenn.); Place; WRFL

Subjects: Ballads; Bluegrass music; College radio stations; Country music; Culture; Folk music; Music; Radio stations; Rural; Spirit; University of Kentucky

00:59:16 - WRFL / Favorite WRFL moment

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Partial Transcript: How, how would you sum up WRFL in just--in, in, in, in a sentence?

Segment Synopsis: Pen details the most important qualities that WRFL possesses. Pen also considers his favorite WRFL moment throughout the years. The impact of music on gentrification in Lexington is touched on as well.

Keywords: Community; Enlightening; Fiddles; Lexington (Ky.); Live music; Neighborhoods; Pioneering; Pleasant; Songs; WRFL; Welcoming

Subjects: College radio stations; Curiosity; Entertaining; Gentrification; Music; Radical; Radio; Radio station; Radio stations; University of Kentucky