Thoughts From Outgoing Operations Manager Lara Hrycaj

Hello WHFR Listeners,

After being a WHFR Staff Member since 1992 and WHFR's Operation Manager since 1998, I have taken a position at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois (just south of Chicago). I will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Media Studies focusing on Audio Storytelling at Governors State. Additionally, I will be developing a radio station for them: first, an internet station and then a broadcast station. I wouldn't be able take this position if it wasn't for all my years at WHFR and the support from the staff, officers, and management.

When I started at WHFR, I had just started Henry Ford Community College and I wandered down into the basement of Fine Arts and was greeted by Bob Nall (former assistant GM) and Jennifer Davis (former WHFR DJ). Bob invited me in and made me feel welcomed. I already had my FCC Operator's License (something you need to broadcast on the air years ago) and experience on the air at WSDP in high school. Then I met Jay Korinek (then Station Advisor and GM of WHFR) and other members of WHFR (including Mike Dereniewski and JoAnn Korczynska). Very quickly I was on doing pre-recorded shows (we ran 8-hour VHS tapes during our non-live hours during the day back then). One weekend when everyone was at a music conference (at Loyola University in Chicago I believe) and I did a few live shows along with Larry Hoffman. Soon I was doing a "Last Frontier" show (the generic name of indie rock shows at the time) and eventually I became more involved with WHFR by becoming the Program Director.

I took a brief break from WHFR when I attended the University of Central Florida to earn my Bachelor's of Arts in Broadcasting. Once I received my BA, Jay wanted to interview me for the Operations Manager position at WHFR. I was torn between staying in Orlando and working at WUCF as the traffic director and on-air host or moving back to Michigan and working at the radio station I loved - WHFR. OK, it was a no-brainer - I chose WHFR. Once I started back at WHFR as Operations Manager I met Susan McGraw for the first time (she was pregnant with her son Johnny who is now a College Student at time has flown) and we hit it off right away. Susan and I developed a wonderful working relationship and friendship through the years. Susan and Jay were great supporters of me teaching classes at Henry Ford and eventually going back to school to earn my Master's Degree and PhD at Wayne State University in Media Arts and Studies. This support evolved in me teaching more and more at both Henry Ford and then Wayne State University. It was while teaching I realized I found my calling and that is to teach media to others.

My years at WHFR have taught me more than what I can put into words. I have seen WHFR go from the basement of Fine Arts and running limited hours per day to studios in the Student Center Building and being on the air 24-7. I have made friends with several WHFR DJs (past and present) and there were even a few romances (mostly during my Pre-Operations Manager days). I started a radio show using the name Mrs. Robinson in January 1999 played indie rock, space rock, garage rock and eventually soundtracks for 20 years ending in spring 2019. I have fond memories of several Homecomings from the days near to river, to near the food court area to accord from the carnival area plus hanging out and watching fireworks with my WHFR friends! Pledge drives were always fun from time Chesney and I broadcast together for over 8 hours to the more current ones with Mike D and I doing pledge pitches on each other's shows. You can blame me for the Halloween Trick or Treat grab bags - I started it on a whim during my show one Halloween and I had 10 callers wanting a grab bag and now it is something we do every year. I will miss my Mrs Robinson Will Oldam Valentine's special where I would play the music of Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace Brothers ,etc) and he would sometimes call during the show. I did not start the WHFR Record Show but I became one of the major organizers and while a lot of work was a very fun event I had the pleasure of being a part of and I know Mike D cannot wait to have full reins of his creation again!!!!

I have almost 30 years of memories at WHFR and it is going to be hard place to leave. I still cannot believe I have been part of a place for almost 30 years!!!! I have grown up at WHFR from a young naive teenager to a middle-aged woman. Almost 30 years!!!! I know, it is crazy. It will be an end of an era for me and for WHFR. Change is good. WHFR was here before me and will still go on stronger and better after me. I am about to do something scary and leave my WHFR home and home in Michigan to follow my dream of being a full-time college professor of media studies in Illinois. It will only be a 4-hour drive from GSU to WHFR but I know it will seem like a world away from the beginning.

I will miss WHFR and all of you. This will be a good thing for both of us, change is good (and scary). WHFR is in great hands with y'all and Susan. I am excited to embark on my next adventure and I hope WHFR will be ready for their new adventure as well.

WHFR will always be a part of me and it will be one of the hardest places to leave.

Thanks to all the past and present WHFR Staff, Officers, and Management for giving me a place to grow as a broadcaster and an educator.

Dr. Lara Hrycaj
WHFR (former) Operations Manager