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Jazz 91.9 WCLK | Membership Matters

Quo Vadis Breaux, First WCLK PD, Joins our 50th Anniversary Celebration

Quo Vadis Gamble Breux in the center of two Clark College Students in April 1974 at the launch of Atlanta's Jazz Station 91.9 WCLK
Boyd Lewis
Stan Washington
Quo Vadis Gamble Breux in the center of two Clark College Students in April 1974 at the launch of Atlanta's Jazz Station 91.9 WCLK

On April 10th, 1974, WCLK went live on the airwaves. This new NPR affiliate, which focused on JAZZ, was led by students and a few professionals. The students unboxed the equipment, tested the new technology, and hired on-air hosts and news reporters, and WCLK’s history began. During our anniversary month, The Local Take will focus on the people who started the station. This week, I spoke with Quo Vadis Breaux, who left her job at historic WYLD in New Orleans to join the team at Clark College, which was launching a new radio station with students. She was the first program director at WCLK. Quo Vadis Gamble Breaux joins us to share her experience.

Breaux explains that she was recruited from WYLD in New Orleans to join WCLK and help create classes for students interested in broadcasting careers. She shares that accepting the position was easy for many reasons, including adventure, jazz, and the affiliation with an HBCU.

She goes on to share that the other professionals on the team were the engineer Cecil O’Neal and Professor Charles Hopson, who joined the students in putting WCLK on the air. She speaks to the students being volunteers and working mainly for class credit. I asked her about the differences in working with an established media outlet compared to starting a student-run station, and she said that it was “interesting.” She shares that it was a challenge to teach and learn at the same time. She speaks about the students being at different levels and meeting them where they were. She learned to enhance their abilities.

When asked about how WCLK was received in the community, Breaux mentions that it had limited operating hours, and when it was off the air, local broadcasters received requests asking them to play the “song” that was on WCLK. We talk about the students also breaking news. She speaks about training students to do cold interviews when they didn’t know the artist. Breaux shares that any Jazz artist who came to Atlanta always stopped by the station.

Breaux didn’t think about the fact that she was building a legacy, and she is quite pleased that she is being sought out to speak about the work she did so long ago. She shares that the people who were part of those early days formed a bond that continues to exist today.