Bill Drake ’63 describes 55 years on air

Bill Drake ’63 has been in radio for 55 years and hosted the “Awake with Drake” morning show in Spartanburg, S.C., for the past 38 years.

“I always wanted to be on the radio,” Drake says. “I was at a cross era when it was the center of family attention before television took over with the instantaneous stuff we have on now.”

Drake attended Badger Boys State at Ripon College in 1958, and later enrolled as a student. The cover of his new book “Awake with Drake” includes a photo of his 1959 WRPN press card. “Ripon plays a vital part in the book,” he says. “I was one of four students who put WRPN-FM on air in 1961. Harrison Ford ’64 worked for me.”

After graduation, Drake worked for various Midwest stations before moving to South Carolina in 1972. “The kind of radio I do I call relationship radio,” Drake says, including chats about birthdays and deaths, weather, sports and community events. He even announces scores of Ripon College games because he likes to.

He also is the organizer of the annual Bill Drake Christmas Music Festival and a wellestablished quiz bowl for middle-schoolers.

“I enjoy what I do,” Drake says. “People ask if I think I’m part of a dying breed, and the answer is yes. You have to hang around an awful long time to be accepted like I am. People don’t want to hang around a long time anymore. They’re always looking for new jobs, new markets.”


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