Monday, January 26, 2009

College Radio Tidbits - Cost Cutting at Miami University and Middle Tennessee State Stations, While Madison Station Expands

A few college-radio related items to report, as 2 public-radio affiliated college stations face budget crises, while the University of Wisconsin-Madison station moves to a shiny, new space:

Control of Campus Station WMUB to Transfer to Public Radio Group
According to a press release, Miami University (Ohio) may transfer control of their public radio-affiliated station WMUB to Cincinnati Public Radio in order to cut costs. The press release states:

"...the financial obligation of WMUB can no longer be borne by the university with the economic challenges we face," said Miami President David Hodge.

The university chose not to sell the station, as it would have likely meant losing the public radio programming that it now provides to the Miami Valley.

This decision follows a two-year process of exploring options for the future of WMUB, which did not result in an economically viable way to continue WMUB as a stand-alone station. Under this operating agreement, WMUB would join public radio stations WGUC FM and WVXU FM, which are owned and operated by Cincinnati Public Radio. WVXU and WMUB currently offer similar programming. With this alliance, WMUB will maintain its emphasis on news and information offerings on 88.5 FM as well as offer opportunities for student development."

Although this news is not the same as a campus losing a radio station completely, it is a sad move in terms of the increasing homogenization of radio and loss of local programming---even among public radio stations.

WSUM's New Digs
An opinion piece in The Isthmus discusses Madison Wisconsin station WSUM (Stop 2 on the "Spinning Indie 50 State Tour") and its new studios. The author talks about a $400,000 grant for the station move and writes, "The question is, what will WSUM do with its newfound wealth? Will its programming grow to reflect the quality of its facility? Or will it squander this amazing opportunity?"

Although the author praises WSUM programming, saying, "when WSUM shines, it can be brilliant," he also critiques the station for being "...notoriously uneven, and not something a new studio can fix."

Do you think shiny new studios and mounds of cash should lead to a more professional-sounding station? I'm not sure...But, I do think that DJs and staff should feel very very thankful and should work their hardest to do great programming.

My greater reaction to this story, though, is that especially in these economic times, it's fantastic to hear about a college radio station that's getting such strong support from the administration. Clearly they understand the importance of student radio.

Middle Tennessee State May Close Radio Station
An article about budget cuts at Middle Tennessee State University states that one of the casualties of their financial crisis may be the student radio station. An earlier article states that the radio station in danger of closing is public radio-affiliated jazz station WMOT. In a nice statement of solidarity, student-run radio station WMTS is hosting a benefit to help save their sister station.

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