SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — The joyous sounds that emanate daily from Wittenberg University’s student-run radio station, WUSO 89.1-FM, can now be heard by many more people in the greater Springfield area thanks to a recently completed signal upgrade that will improve the station’s range a whopping 128 percent.
WUSO broadcasts 24 hours per day, offering an eclectic mix of musical selections by student disc jockeys, and in the last year a wide range of the university’s varsity sporting events, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball. Previously, the station’s 10-watt transmitter enabled only people in the immediate campus area to tune into the broadcasts, but now with a 120-watt transmitter, people throughout Springfield and even across much of Clark County will be able to catch the latest campus happenings.
The process for installing the new transmitter has been a long one. In 1997, the Federal Communications Commission began a process of removing Class D licenses and forcing small, non-commercial stations like WUSO to move to Class A licenses.
WUSO’s move to a Class A license was complicated by the fact that a competing radio station with the same frequency was supposed to begin broadcasting out of nearby Urbana at about the same time. Several years of wrangling over rights to the frequency and broadcast coverage areas ensued.
A construction permit was finally issued for WUSO to install its new transmitter in April 2003, but a variety of delays pushed it back until this month, when it finally was erected atop Tower Hall. Students remain at the helm, steering the station into this exciting new frontier with the guidance of Mark DeVilbiss, director of student activities.
“I like the fact that the station is entirely student-run,” DeVilbiss said. “It’s a leadership opportunity, and it’s a business opportunity. Our students can put into practice the many things they learn every day in the classroom, and that’s exciting.”
This is particularly big news for local fans of Wittenberg athletic teams, which are often in the mix for conference and national championships and frequently must play on the road. While tuning the athletic broadcasts in on the Internet is also a reliable way to listen to games, fans driving their cars outside the city limits or who are without computer access at home were previously out of luck when it came to listening to road games.
“We’re happy to have a radio station with such a powerful signal on campus that allows us to bring Wittenberg sporting events to the local community,” said Garnett Purnell, director of athletics and recreation. “It’s also great to be able to work with Wittenberg students to make these broadcasts possible.”
Athletic broadcasts on WUSO offer exceptional educational opportunities for students. Marty Bannister and Scott Leo, professional broadcasters with more than 30 years of experience in the business between them, anchor the broadcasts, and students are encouraged to take part and learn from them. This fall, sophomore Sean Golden worked as a sideline reporter during home football games after calling numerous men’s and women’s basketball games during the 2003-04 school year.
Students interested in joining the broadcast teams during the 2004-05 school year can contact Sports Information Director Ryan Maurer via e-mail (email@example.com) to get more information and get connected with the broadcasters. Advertising opportunities, which help the athletic department defray the costs of paying Bannister and Leo and the equipment they use during games, are also available by contacting Purnell via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Advertising on WUSO in general, however, is not part of the gameplan. The station’s Class A license makes it noncommercial, allowing student deejays a free reign to run their favorite musical selections out to the public seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“This is an excellent way for students to be creative in front of their peers,” DeVilbiss said. “It’s a great educational opportunity to learn how a radio station operates.
“We’re hoping that more and more students perhaps as part of the communication major now on campus will take an interest in WUSO and turn their experiences there into something they can use as a career path.”