Steve Froehlich takes WFDU back to the 1980s

Steve Froehlich at work at the WFDU-FM radio station on the Metropolitan Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. (Photo courtesy of Froehlich)

Interview by Intisar Foster

Fairleigh Dickinson University welcomes Metropolitan Campus alumnus (BS’83) and Maywood, N.J. native Steve Nicholas back home to WFDU radio. After beginning his broadcasting career at WFDU-AM in 1979 with regular weekly shows and eventually management positions, Nicholas is back with an “Everything Eighties“ segment. Audiences can tune in every Saturday night to “reminisce, remember, and recall the past” from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.

FDU: What sparked your passion for broadcasting?

SF: I was interested in broadcasting for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my friends and I used to “call” our various baseball, football, and basketball games, and we would also mimic the radio disc jockeys (DJs) as well, from the AM heyday in the ‘70s to the rise of the FM stations, too. We always had a transistor radio on wherever we were. 

I was fascinated by the continuous interaction of the music and show host/DJ. I thought that would be a great career to be involved in. I clearly enjoy the live aspect of bringing a show to the listeners. Music is my passion, even though I really can’t play an instrument other than tambourine or even read music.

FDU: Tell us a little about your broadcast history.

SF: My broadcast history goes back to September 1979, when I was a freshman at FDU. I got my first show on WFDU-AM 640 on Friday evenings from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. I would often stay on till 1 a.m. or later, as I never did get tired of being on the air. I continued doing a show weekly for all four years, through May 1983, at WFDU-AM. 

I served as the station’s business manager from 1980-1981 and its general manager from 1981-1983. I also participated, in January 1981, in the moving of the AM station from the basement in University Court 5 to the lower level of the Student Union Building, where the University’s current student run FM station 92Q is today. After graduating in May 1983 and pursuing a business career, I decided recently to get “back” into radio.

FDU: How did you get this job?

SF: I am incredibly fortunate and lucky to have this job. It all began in June 2013 when I was looking at the FDU website for some volunteer opportunities. I thought it would be a wonderful idea to give something back to the University which gave me so much. 

I sent an email to Barry Sheffield, WFDU-FM program director, expressing my interest in volunteering, and, much to my surprise, he called me the next day to arrange a meeting. The meeting went extraordinarily well, and Barry told me that he thought there definitely would be something available shortly and that I might be just the right person for what he had in mind.

I spent a couple of weeks training with the new technology in the studio, and in August 2013 recorded a demo tape. 

On Friday morning of Labor Day weekend, I did a fill-in show for “Crescent City Roadhouse.” Immediately after that, was offered the Saturday night slot from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. That became “Everything Eighties,” which became part of the revised Saturday night schedule. It all happened so quickly and it amazed me how fast it developed. And I truly love every minute of it!

FDU: How does it feel to be back on campus?

SF: It feels great to be back on campus.  I really can’t believe it’s been as long as it obviously has, but it still feels the same. 

I always enjoyed the walks to class and the picturesque university setting. The station itself is less than 15 feet away from my freshman dormitory in University Court 8! Most of the buildings still look the same as they did when I was a student. I love the feel and tradition of the campus. It’s nice to see that those things have not changed with the passage of time. I have many fond memories of my time as a student here, and I do believe that “you can go home again.”

FDU: What is something you would like to contribute to WFDU radio?

SF: I am so honored and proud to be a member of the WFDU-FM radio team. Everyone has been absolutely terrific along the way. I am hoping to contribute by continuing the high standards of original programming and live broadcasting which is what makes this station so unique. 

FDU: What do you expect listeners to get from “Everything Eighties”?

SF: First and foremost, the opportunity to hear the great music from the decade. Oftentimes they may recall particular events or places when they heard a song for the first time, a remembrance, or a recollection.  I also like to provide them with some occasional unusual factoids, trivia, or urban legend about the artist, album, or the music.  

Since it is a “retro” show, I often play some songs from vinyl, 45rpm or 12” singles, which are rarely heard today. I try to play artists and songs that haven’t been heard in a while, focusing on new wave, one hit wonders, forgotten artists, lost gems, and the occasional TV or game show theme. I also enjoy putting together themed shows, like the all Halloween night. 

I hope the show brings listeners back to the decade and they enjoy listening to it. 

FDU: How comfortable are you with a late night timeslot? Does it feel natural to you?

SF: The late night slot is absolutely perfect for me. I have always been more comfortable being on the air at nighttime. I think that my style and personality fits that time slot nicely, and it reflects in the music as well.  I am also a “night” person by nature.

FDU: What are some of your “eighties” favorites?

SF: There are so many favorites. Some of them would be David Bowie, Queen, The Pretenders, Prince, Talking Heads, Pat Benatar, The B-52’s, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, The Clash, Adam Ant, The Tubes, Ultravox, Banarama, Squeeze, The Go-Gos, Styx, Blues Brothers and so many more. 

FDU: Where do you see the future of the radio industry or WFDU?

SF: I see the future of the radio industry and WFDU-FM similar to where it is today, providing a niche which goes beyond today’s pre programmed music or electronic gadgets. I still think there is an audience which enjoys the traditional live broadcast and allows the show host to pick and determine the music played.  I also think it’s wonderful that we truly have a global audience and that we are able to carry on that tradition at WFDU-FM. I hope to be a part of it for many years to come.

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

FDU Office of Public Relations

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Dina Schipper,
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Kenna Caprio,
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Helen Grill,
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FDU Office of Public Relations

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Daniel Landau,
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