Timeline

1915: A band formed in 1915 and though active in 1916 was suspended temporarily in 1917 due to members leaving for war service.

1920: A reorganized band numbered 20 members and played without uniforms at the band’s first public appearance under the direction of Lloyd Manley. Through student contributions, the band acquired caps, coats and trousers. Virgil Altenburg iwas hired as director of the band.

1921: The band numbered 32 members and was known as the “Band Boys.” The fight song is titled “Western’s Fight Song," but also referred to as “Hail, Hail for Western Normal School.” Although different from the current song, the alma mater is titled “Brown and Gold.” The band performed its first away game at Albion College.

1922: C.Z. Bronson was hired as director of the band.

1923: A.B. Castle was hired as director of the band, which grew to 35 members plus a drum major. One in every 15 students enrolled at Western State Normal School was a band member.

1924: New overcoats were added to the band’s uniform.

1925: George E. Amos was hired as director of the band. The band personnel increased to 40 members. The band performed at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) for a basketball game in their first long-distance trip. The band program was named a permanent organization by the school.

1926: The band program was described as “one of the college’s greatest organizations."

1928: The band marched in the Benton Harbor Blossom Time Parade and accompanied the team to an away game at Ypsilanti.

1929: The band played at Mount Pleasant for an away game.

1931: The band numbered 85 men and was known as the Hilltop Band.

1934: A military color guard, two herald trumpeters, and several new instruments were added to the band.

1935: The Student Council presented an American flag and a college flag, in its appropriate colors, to Dr. Paul V. Sangren, who in turn presented it to the band manager, Dick de Plont.

1936: The band performed at the Tulip Festival Parade in Holland and the Blossom Festival in Benton Harbor.

1937: The band received new military style uniforms.

1938-39: The band made more than 35 public appearances during this school year.

1940: The students of Western State Teacher’s College chose a new fight song. Western’s first pep band of 20 members is created. The first majorette, June Selden, debuted.

1941: Two more majorettes were added: Shirly Robinson and Ruth Nieusma. Western State Teacher’s College became Western Michigan College, necessitating that all school songs to be rewritten.

1942: Women and all other interested students were asked to join the Military Marching Band, to fill its war depleted ranks. This marks the first time women march in the band. The band membership was 75.

1943: Navy V-12 trainees became part of Western’s band.

1944: Harold Barlow, a Warrant Officer from Fort Custer, was hired as director of the marching band. The band’s new uniforms were navy blue with bell-bottom trousers.

1945: Master Sgt. Phillip Proud, also from Fort Custer, replaced Barlow as director of the marching band in the spring of 1945. Freshman high stepper Joyce Thomas held the national twirling championship. Hired by President Sangren, Leonard Meretta left the University of Michigan to lead the Wind Area and direct the Marching Band for Western Michigan College beginning in the fall of 1945. The band rehearsed in two rooms in East Hall with a budget of $5000. Recruiting efforts resulted in a 60 member band. The band utilized a miniature gridiron, built by a faculty member from the Industrial Arts Program to configure band formations. A $50 stipend was established for marching band members that remained in effect until 1994. The band’s seating arrangement at football games changed from the corner of the stadium to the 35 yard line.

1946: The band of 80 members played at football and basketball games as well as the baseball opening game and two concert performances. The first high school Band Day was held. The first annual band banquet and awards presentation was held at the end of the season.

1947: Two pep bands were created for basketball games.

1950: Band membership of 100! A new school fight song, entitled “Go Western!” was written.

1951: Western became known for their outstanding twirlers.

1959: The band was nicknamed the “Marching 100.” 90 television stations nation-wide featured the band on television in a halftime show at a Chicago Bears NFL football game. This was the band’s first exposure to national television and received wide acclaim.

1960: An alma mater was introduced.

1961: The band played at football games in Detroit, Bowling Green, Dayton, and Chicago. New uniforms were presented to the band, which included plumed hats for the first time.

1965: The band was nicknamed the “Meretta Marauders.”

1966: New brown and white uniforms were presented to the band. Special guest Doc Severinsen performed with the band.

1968: Meretta celebrated his 25th year at Western and was honored with the longest conductorship in the MAC.

1972: Relinquishing the reins of the marching band in 1972, Meretta remained as full time faculty through 1981, and as part time faculty teaching mostly trumpet lessons until 1988. Carl Bjerregaard was hired as director of the marching band in his stead.

1973: Richard Swinsick was hired as director of the band. A new marching style was introduced, fashioned after drum and bugle corps style, which placed the focus on precision drill marching rather than formation marching. Rehearsals were now held 4 days each week. The band performed in Arizona and California.

1975: The uniforms changed to a Western style hat, gold shirt, and brown pants.

1977: Michael Williamson was hired as director of the band. He emphasized a drum corps style and a one-show season.

1978: Gregory Talford was hired as director of the band. The show presentation was expanded to address both sides of the stadium. The band’s first female drum majors were, Pam Yargar, Karen Wulff, and Cheryl Fryer. The band became known as the “Bronco Marching Band.”

1979: The “Bronco Cheer” was introduced. The band numbered 125 members.

1983: Jim Wright was hired as director of the band. He continued the corps style show format.

1985: The Bronco Band traveled to the Marching Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis. Band membership exceeded 220 members

1987: Patrick Dunnigan was hired as director of the band. The band performed in the Kalamazoo Wine and Harvest Festival Parade, in the Kalamazoo Christmas Parade, and at Tiger Stadium for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

1988: The band traveled with the football team to perform at the California Bowl in Fresno, CA.

1990: The band made appearances in Detroit and Akron, Ohio.

1991: Stephen Grugin was hired as director of the band.

1993: New uniforms consisted of brown pants and a predominately white coat.

1994: The band performed at Western’s first Thursday night football game.

1995: The band took its first trip to Indiana University. Band reached 250 members. The Bronco Band marched drill to both sides of the field again. The 75th anniversary of the WMU Band was observed. The WMU Band Alumni Society was formed.

1997: Chris Ward was hired as director of the band. The Bronco Band traveled to Michigan State University.

1998: William Pease was hired as director of the band. Bronco Pep Band traveled to Chicago for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. A post-game show was formalized. The full band traveled to Indiana University. Bronco Marching Band performed for the first time with Western Michigan University’s Gold Company. Bronco Marching Band recorded and released its first annual CD.

1999: A football pep band traveled to some away games. The Bronco Band developed a vast repertoire of short spirit tunes and drum cadences to play during football games. High school Band Day was re-introduced. Bronco Marching Band followed the football team to MAC division championship at Marshall University. The band was asked to record selections for Warner Brothers.

2000: The band performed with the Temptation Review.
The band returned with the football team to MAC Division Championship Game at Marshall University.

2001: Bronco Marching Band broke the 300 member mark. Uniform changed to a more modern style with primary uniform colors of black and gold. The full band performed for the first time at The University of Michigan.

2002: The band returned to The University of Michigan. The band size increased to 320+ members. The band performed with the Boston Brass Quintet. The Bronco Marching Band was twice a finalist for the Sudler Trophy (top collegiate marching band in the nation).

2004: David Montgomery was hired as director of the Bronco Marching Band.

2005: Bronco Marching Band endorsed by Dynasty Drums.

2006: The band returned to Indiana University.

2007: The band made its first international appearance at the Inaugural International Bowl in Toronto, Canada. At High School Band Day, the band honored past director of Bands Leonard Meretta who passed away in July of 2007.

2008: The Mu Delta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi was installed at WMU. (Feb. 29) The band purchased new uniforms. The design of the uniform was left unchanged. The band performed at the Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

2011: The band performed at the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 27