Edinboro's Student-run Radio Gets Grown-up

Categories:  Community    Music    Arts & Culture/Entertainment
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 10:20 AM
Edinboro's Student-run Radio Gets Grown-up by Ryan Smith

Way back in the early 2000s, when I was involved with campus radio at Edinboro University (as host of 'Milk Milk Lemonade,' a no-award-winning, messy-fun weekly freakout) the station's reach was, uh, not wide. Probably, say, a mile or so past the just-off-campus field where I could be found chucking a frisbee around during alotta my on-air hours (thanks, 40-minute Dead space-jam).

Yeah, those low-rent little shows, for other hosts as well as myself, were always good, foolish fun ... and, because almost nobody outside a nearby cloister of like-minded weirdos ever heard them, almost entirely irrelevant.

As far as I know, that's sorta the way campus radio at Edinboro stayed in more recent years, too -- until now, according to its student and faculty leaders. Having undergone a sweeping switchover in format and overall approach, and officially re-launched earlier this month, it looks like little WFSE-FM 88.9 (on-air since 1978) is getting all grown-up.

"Listen to Edinboro's hometown radio station wherever you go," suggested the first new, smooth station liner I heard after tuning in to Fighting Scots Radio's accessible-everywhere stream earlier this morning. I'm happy to say I didn't want turn away too quickly after I did, either: Argent's "Hold Your Head Up," ... "Reelin' in the Years" by Steely Dan ... Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" ... some B-52s ... not too shabby, there. Soon after, a Fighting Scots sports talk show's host starts doing his thing, and doing it well, previewing and reviewing area teams' up-to-the-minute wins, losses, and points in between.

WFSE's new, broad rock-based music format - along with a tuned-in focus on high-quality, original, and relevant student-produced programs and local public service announcements - is one part of a recent reorganization, budgetary and otherwise, of Edinboro University's three campus media organizations (which also include ETV, its student television organization, and The Spectator, the weekly campus newspaper).

Prior to this academic year, those media groups operated as student clubs, and were funded by the university Student Government Association. Now, for better or worse, they're being required to operate under a professional model facilitated by the school's Department of Journalism and Public Relations, with each organization responsible for generating operating revenue and effectively managing its operations.

So far, WFSE has been able to attract major underwriting from several Edinboro-based businesses and organizations, officials said, and the related 'Boro 24/7: Campus and Community Media Partnership' initiative has also been supported by a grant of nearly $10,000 from the Erie County Gaming and Revenue Authority (ECGRA).

That, along with the station's new approaches overall, “puts a positive type of pressure” on the student media groups to function and perform at a higher level on-air, Tony Peyronel, chairperson of the university Department of Journalism and Public Relations, said in a recent news release.

“It has been a tremendous challenge under the current economic conditions," Peyronel said, "but also a successful effort that has provided a great learning environment for our students.”

Rock on, Scots.

Writer/photographer Ryan Smith can be contacted at rSmith@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @RyanSmithPlens.

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