For the first time in its 73-year history, the student-run radio station at Western Carolina University is silent. But not for long.
Feb. 1 marked a new challenge for WCU students as WWCU-FM began the transition to its new frequency of 95.3 FM, with the potential to reach an audience of more than 100,000 Western North Carolina residents.
“The new signal will go north through Cherokee into the national park, west to Bryson City, south to Cashiers and Highlands, and east to Waynesville,” said Don Connelly, professor in the Department of Communication and faculty adviser to WWCU. “The new tower gives the university and our students a chance to reach this large area, which includes a whole lot of people we’ve never been able to reach before.”
A record hurricane season, winter storms, and a worldwide pandemic, along with extensive disruptions in the broadcasting and communication industry supply chain are creating many challenges for the project.
February brought the cessation of WWCU-FM’s initial frequency 90.5, which forced the station to broadcast completely online until the launch of the new frequency.
“The students would like to have thrown a big party to celebrate the new station, and they will do just that when 95.3 FM is ready to air, but for now, we’re just not there yet,” Connelly said.
Despite the delays to the new station, the department is still preparing broadcasting students for success.
“This is a great opportunity for students to have hands-on experience. That’s what we want the communication program to be known for – that our students will learn how the industry operates and be ready to enter it as young professionals with knowledge and experience,” said Katerina Spasovska, head of the Department of Communication.
As construction continues on 95.3 FM, the station hopes listeners will continue to enjoy online broadcasts at WWCUFM.com as the project moves to completion.