Campus radio station WRUR announced the signing of a five-year contract with local NPR affiliate WXXI to expand a partnership between the stations that is designed to attract more listeners and expand the programming on both.
“This is a rare opportunity for UR,” Vice President of Communications Bill Murphy said. “To have a student-run organization operating in a professional environment is excellent.”
Integral to the plan for the future of WRUR is a change in the location and power of the radio transmitter. Currently, WRUR broadcasts from the Hyatt Hotel in Rochester, a location that limits the range of the signal. WRUR plans to move their transmission antenna to WXXI’s Pinnacle Hill facility, enabling the station to reach up to 120,000 new listeners in the greater Rochester area.
This move is not without price. Simply moving and increasing transmission power to the antenna is expected to cost $130,000.
Because of this cost, WXXI felt that it was necessary to form a more formal bond with UR.
“It takes a lot of time to build an audience,” WXXI Executive Vice President Susan Rogers said. “To justify the investment we needed to know that WRUR would be stable.”
Part of this stability will be gained via WXXI’s plan to send staff members to assist in operations at WRUR.
As a term of the contract, WXXI agreed to provide one experienced staff member to serve both as adviser to the radio station and to work on a course to be offered in broadcasting.
“This person will serve as an ongoing supportive liaison to the students,” Rogers said. “They will be a consistent face to link WRUR and WXXI.”
This adviser will also form part of the restructured WRUR Student Governing Board, which will be reformed to include senior members of the student staff and WXXI employees, in addition to the station’s faculty adviser. Students will also be able to take advantage of opportunities for new paid positions within WXXI.
“These new positions will give students who are interested in broadcasting the ability to more fully explore those interests at UR,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said.
Students participating in WRUR will benefit from the partnership when producing radio content, due in large part to access to more modern and advanced equipment. Last weekend, WRUR transmitted a radio show from the Memorial Art Gallery using WXXI mobile production equipment.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to learn from and use WXXI’s equipment,” junior and WRUR General Manager C. Mike Lindsey said.
One of the more useful new facilities available to WRUR is a studio that allows students to pre-record and automate broadcasts over the air. Previously, when a student was not able to make their scheduled broadcast time, the radio transmitter was shut down, causing audiences to lose interest in the station and endangering the station’s standing with the Federal Communications Commission.
Now, it will be possible for students to pre-record entire shows for later broadcast, assuring that the station will never go silent.
“It’s hard to get students to DJ during the day,” Lindsey said. “This will help keep us on the air during class time.”
Central to WRUR’s partnership with WXXI will be greater controls on the quality of shows broadcast. WXXI will assist in monitoring all broadcasts for FCC violations and will assist in rectifying any situations that arise.
With the expansion of WRUR’s ability to transmit will come a larger audience encompassing a greater part of the Rochester area. WRUR plans to move from simply a college radio station to a greater influence in the area. Through expanded programming and transmission areas, WRUR will be able to reach many other campuses in the area.
“UR is lucky to have this sort of partnership,” Asbury said. “We intend to become the voice for college students in the Rochester area.”Majarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.