The House That Rocked

It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again…a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…

– Hunter S. Thompson

The HouseIt was seemingly out of place; a single house, right on the edge of a college campus. We never really knew its history. When was it built? Who lived there?

It didn’t matter. It was our house.

But more importantly to us, the house is our haven. It’s where we made our closest friend. It was where we worked. It’s where we played. It was home.

The old house was the home to WSWI AM 820 when it first signed on November, 1981. WSWI was a gift from the Engelbrecht Family, owners of South Central Communications. The 250 watt daytime only station was the former WIKY. When the University of Southern Indiana first signed on the station, WSWI played jazz and classical music.

Then in 1983, WSWI became a college rock station. In the early 80’s, that meant a lot of new wave music, along with some top 40 music. As the 80’s continued, bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, REM and U2 were getting a lot of attention.

To carve out a niche in Evansville, AM 820 adopted the moniker “Evansville’s Alternative, I-82”. It played some of the band featured on 120 Minutes and some of the bands from Evansville’s budding music scene. And all of the music was provided by the former Cat’s Records.

The house that rocked survived construction on the growing campus and the overpass construction on the Lloyd Expressway at 8600 University.

As the 90s progresses, I-82 was the site of the greatest revolution in music since “Rock Around the Clock”. It was the only radio station in South Western Indiana that was playing the music of Nirvana and Pearl Jam alongside Material Issue and Voice of the Beehive.

In 1994, AM 820 retired the I-82 name, and the music started to change as well. AM 820 shed some of the music of the 80s to make room for the new kids, such as Beck and Weezer.

The radio station found its new home in the brand new Liberal Arts Center in 1999, leaving behind the house that rocked. USI’s ROTC became the new tenants, only to relocate its offices elsewhere a few years later.

The house that rocked no longer stands. However, the tradition and the spirit of the house remains.