CULLOWHEE – A trio of Western Carolina University communication majors recently launched a new weekly radio program called “Free Speech Cullowhee” and quickly established a national presence for the fledgling news and viewpoints show broadcast by the university's WWCU-FM.

Program co-host Bob Wiley was among the journalists interviewing former Democratic vice presidential hopeful John Edwards on a recent visit to Asheville, and Wiley could be heard on C-SPAN and other national networks and local broadcast affiliates asking Edwards about the impact of media monopolization on free speech issues.

“Helping to establish an independent media is important to me because we're seeing fewer and fewer viewpoints in mainstream media. The only way to change that is for folks outside of the industry to become the media,” said Wiley, a 1997 graduate of Clayton High School and son of Eric and Penny Moore of Raleigh . “Western students have great opportunities to do that through WWCU and the other student media outlets.”

That's one of the reasons Wiley, co-host Tom Spane and producer Kevin Wilhite launched “Free Speech Cullowhee” in mid-November.

“I hope that more Americans will begin taking the media into their own hands and finding out the truth for themselves,” said Spane, a 2003 graduate of North Buncombe High School and son of Timothy and Pamela McCurry of Weaverville. “One way students at Western can do that is to participate in our talk show and talk about what's important to them.”

The program is an effort to remind students and off-campus listeners to take advantage of their First Amendment rights, the students said.

“We want the citizens of Western North Carolina to hear the views of ordinary people, and not just the mainstream media. That's why I agreed to come on board as producer,” said Wilhite, a 2004 graduate of Apex High School and son of Dale and Nancy Wilhite of Apex.

“We wanted to put our voices out there and open up a forum for anyone else to do the same thing,” said Wiley. “We're a lot less concerned with folks agreeing with our viewpoints than we are with providing them with a forum through which they can air their own. We're not afraid of anyone's opinions, and the mainstream media shouldn't be either, but oftentimes they are.”

“Free Speech Cullowhee” airs weekly on Sunday nights from 8 until 10 p.m. on WWCU-FM, 90.5 on the FM dial or online at www.wwcufm.com . Listeners are invited to call in to express their viewpoints at (828) 227-7173.

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Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Western Carolina University