Surprises dot opening of new WXPN building
October 4, 2004, 5:00 am · Updated September 16, 2011, 1:02 am·
In a surprise appearance at WXPN’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, guitarist John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame treated the audience to a few songs Friday.
The former Hajoca building at 3025 Walnut St. was lauded as a rejuvenated musical performance space and radio studio Friday morning.
“This place is all about the music,” WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay said. “This is a dream that we shared with our 300,000 listeners. … Our listeners paid for this building.”
But the University stands to benefit from the venture, too.
“This is anchoring the eastern edge of the campus,” Facilities and Real Estate Services spokesman Tony Sorrentino said. “It’s bringing people here 24/7.”
This influx of traffic may help Penn achieve its long-term goals with regards to development in the area.
“It really is a microcosm of what we want to accomplish over the next two years,” Senior Vice President for Facilities Services Omar Blaik said, citing the research building and green space in WXPN’s vicinity.
“It’s a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit and hard work,” Blaik continued, joking about the “stress per square foot” caused by the project. “Only three years ago, this place was abandoned and forgotten.”
However, with people like University President Amy Gutmann heaping praise on the facility, it is unlikely that the site will be forgotten any longer.
“It’s just awesome, so spread the word,” Gutmann said. “WXPN rocks.”
“This couldn’t happen at some other places I’ve been affiliated with,” Gutmann said, referring to her time at Princeton University. She added that the place was ideal for students wishing to learn the ropes of the broadcasting industry. “What excites me most is what it symbolizes. … It’s a win-win-win project.”
During the presentation, which lasted nearly an hour in front of an audience of about 75 donors and notable Philadelphia residents, panelists made multiple references to Mayor John Street’s vision of a revitalized city along the Schuylkill River.
Street, though, arrived late for the ceremony and said only a few congratulatory words before rushing off to his next appointment.
The WXPN project involved a number of partners, including Dranoff Properties and the Real Entertainment Group Inc.
“They said it couldn’t be done,” said Carl Dranoff, president of Dranoff Properties. “The naysayers scoffed and laughed. … They aren’t laughing anymore.”
“This place out-hips the Big Apple. … New Yorkers are going to have to come to Philadelphia,” he added.
Speakers at the ceremony, including World Cafe host David Dye and Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Goldman, were quick to share the limelight.
“The beauty of what we have here was a collective effort from day one,” said Hal Real, founder and president of Real Entertainment Group.
Fogerty, who had earlier been a guest on Dye’s popular show World Cafe Live, dropped in as a surprise. Dye hoped that guests from his show would frequently perform on the stage for guests.
The ceremony concluded with a dedication of colorful indoor murals designed and produced by the Mural Arts Program as well as performances by Penn alumni Eric Bazillian and Rob Hyman.
And for those who have been in the community for a while, such as former WXPN DJ Glenn Bryan, the facility held a personal significance.
“This is a long time coming,” said Bryan, Penn’s community relations director.