WXOU 50th Birthday Bash ends year on a high note

Rachel Williams

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On Thursday, March 24 Oakland’s radio station, WXOU, hosted their annual Birthday Bash. This year, the event celebrated 50 years on the air for the station.  

Audience members were greeted at the door by station staff members and DJs handing out free t-shirts, keychains and more. The excitement was palpable among the staff and attendees.  

Upon entering The Crofoot Ballroom, band merchandise was up for sale and the Student Program Board was handing out free swag.  

According to station General Manager Lauren Barthold, this celebratory event has taken place the past eight years.

Prior to 2016, the Birthday Bash has been held in the Banquet Rooms of the OC. With this large milestone, though, WXOU wanted to make this year bigger than ever.

The Crofoot in Pontiac was chosen as a way for the station to further the OU/Pontiac Initiative and appeal to the college demographic.

“Here we had this chance to actually get students physically involved in the city (Pontiac),” Anthony Spak, music director at WXOU, said. “I think The Crofoot is one of the better places to have (had) it for people our age.”

Planning for the Birthday Bash began in December. Once The Crofoot was chosen as the venue, the location’s staff provided a means to reach out to the artists who eventually took the stage on March 24.  

Student Video Productions and Student Program Board helped fund and co-sponsor the event. SPB also set up the VIP experience in which the first 100 students were given free food and seating up on the balcony of the ballroom.  

Barthold explained that on the day of the event, station staff arrived in Pontiac around 4 p.m. to set up and host a pre-show remote broadcast.

“Personally, I was nervous the whole day,” Barthold said. “I just wanted people to have a good time and the station to look good. Those emotions quickly changed to excitement once I saw the guests flooding in and the bands beginning to play.”

George Morris and the Gypsy Chorus came onstage around 8 p.m.  They played a 30-minute energetic and eclectic set followed by Detroit native, Flint Eastwood.  

Flint Eastwood engaged the crowd, running around the stage and letting go of any inhibitions.  

Finally, headliners, Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) took the stage entrancing the audience with their retro style and crystal clear vocals by lead singer Molly Rankin.  

Spak explained that Alvvays was chosen because they are a familiar name at the station and appeal to college-aged people.  

“That was the band that most of the people on our staff were familiar with and I think a lot of people who are into music or are in bands around the state know Alvvays,” he said.  

Spak estimated that approximately 400 to 500 people were in attendance at the peak of the night and felt that it was an overall success.  

“I felt like I’m leaving on a high note,” Spak, who graduates this semester, said.  “That was the perfect send-off for me…I’m just feeling kind of sentimental.”

Barthold echoed Spak’s sentiments.  

“I thought it was a great way to celebrate the accomplishments as well as ring in the next 50 years,” she said.  

Involving students and the community as well as bringing together different student organizations while having a fun night seemed to be a goal and achievement of this year’s event.  

Here’s to another 50 years for the soundtrack of Oakland University.