Around the beginning of 1920, just at the height of some of Lumién's most prestigious advances in film, a group of students began exploring the growing popularity of audio theater, much to the dismay of their housemates who insisted on getting at least eight hours of rest each night. Labeled "inventive" even within their own innovative house, the small group of students mostly kept to themselves, holding secret gatherings in rooms at all hours of the night. No one quite knew what they were up to until, by pure coincidence, someone happened to flip on the radio late one evening.
Coming out of the radio was the hilariously scandalous tale of Willie Walton Naquin, a student at a school suspiciously similar to L'Université des Arts Magiques. Willie was a rabble-rouser of the worst sort, getting into mischief at every turn, harassing faculty, and haranguing the student body. His story was an instant hit with the students of Lumién, and his popularity quickly spread over to the other three houses through word of mouth. Everyone was forced to admit that perhaps they had been a bit hasty in dismissing the Audio Theater Club (as they came to be known) as too weirdly creative.
Over the next few years, the radio station was given the call letters of WWN after the notorious Willie Walton Naquin. The WWN churned out such classics as The Ridiculous Headmaster, Barmy Beanie of the Bayou, and The Storyville Secrets, all popular hits with the student body and several of the faculty. Due to some of the more risqué content (and maybe a little because he became a favorite target of their humor), however, the student-run radio station was not well received by Headmaster Wallingham. Despite his very best and surreptitious efforts, and much to his ongoing chagrin, he was unable to locate either the broadcasting headquarters or the underground funding that kept the station running.
The station continued, unflattering humor unabated, until the Great Scandal of 1931. Though Headmaster Wallingham was unable to find the mysterious funding for the WWN, his successor, Headmistress Plauché, though an anonymous tip (rumored to this day to come from a jealous Zodico faculty member), became aware of some discrepancies in funding for the Lumién film department.
All out chaos erupted with finger pointing and not a little wand waving. While the Headmistress left no stone unturned in her quest for proof that the Audio Theater Club had orchestrated and participated in the misdirection of school funds, another witch hunt was going on within the houses to figure out who had revealed the WWN's secret. Everyone was a suspect, and no one could be trusted.
Things were looking dark for the radio station and the Audio Theater Club. The snitch couldn't be found and the Lumién students began to fear that the Headmistress would convict them of wrongdoing. Despite a lengthy review of records and much Veritaserum, however, Headmistress Plauché was never able to successfully pin the crime to them but the damage had been done. The Audio Theater Club's steady source of financing had disappeared, causing them to suspend their broadcast indefinitely. They wracked their brains trying to find a new means to support their endeavors, and after the students discarded both sending the House's freshmen to find gainful employment and selling illegally charmed objects to Muggles, that means came in the form of an alumnus of L'Université, Julian Jewell. An owner of a struggling wand shop in the French Quarter, Jewell realized he had a unique opportunity to showcase his shop to L'Université students. He immediately offered to sponsor the WWN in exchange for the store being mentioned before and after their most popular programs.
The students jumped at the chance and began to make plans for their grand return to the air waves. They re-launched the WWN in January of 1932, and soon, thanks to the WWN, Jewell's store began to skyrocket in popularity. When other stores began to notice his sudden success, they became curious, and discovering why, they too started clamoring for the chance to sponsor a program on the WWN. The WWN soon returned to its former state of financial security through advertising sales. To thank its sponsors, the Audio Theater Club spent months organizing a special event that would bring listeners and sponsors together in one place. It was an opportunity for their many supporters to get out and meet with the students, have some fun, and show their wares.
The Audio Theater Club, successful beyond its wildest dreams, decided the gathering would be the first of many, and the WWN Magical Fair was born. This year, Phoenix Rising is proud to host the Wireless Web Network and its own version of this historical and entertaining event as part of Artists and Authors Night. Fandom groups of every shape and size that sponsor any portion of Phoenix Rising will receive a complimentary table to meet with attendees and spread a little bit of classic WWN-style mischief. Attendees and sponsors alike, however, should note that an incident such as the Preposterous Prank of 1979 will not be tolerated.
For details on having a table at the Wireless Web Network, please visit our information page here.