Broken Windows and Bullet Holes - by Ken Freedman and Liz Berg
WFMU’s old house on Springdale Ave. was located in a crime-ridden sector of East Orange, NJ, adjacent to the Upsala College campus. WFMU was not immune to the area’s problems, which became evident after a visiting band’s van was stolen directly from the front driveway within a week of the station’s move from a basement dormitory on the Upsala campus.
This initial van theft foreshadowed countless staff muggings, a beating or two, and many vandalized vehicles. One time a police chase ended on WFMU’s front lawn, where a car thief bailed out of the stolen vehicle and the East Orange cops opened fire. Another time, gunshots rang out during an outdoor staff meeting. Staffers discovered that the East Orange police were engaged in some leisurely post-BBQ target practice on the abandoned Upsala soccer field just across the backyard fence.
Illustration by Edward Lasala