WILMINGTON — Johnny Cash’s incomparable voice was readily evident as strains from his classic, “I Walk the Line,” could be heard in the hallway outside Room 121 Studio D of Robinson Communication Center Friday afternoon.
Sophomore Joshua Woodward was preparing for his 2 p.m. show, “Country Power Hour,” which runs Monday, Wednesday and Fridays on The Quake, Wilmington College Radio.
WC’s first-ever radio station debuted Feb. 13 following a quick, lead time of only a few months between concept last summer and “flipping the switch” on that historic Wednesday afternoon.
Nick Wiget, the College’s new instructor of communication arts, brings a special enthusiasm for broadcast media that comes from his background in audio/video production and years as a professional announcer with a portfolio ranging from the Harlem Globetrotters and Cincinnati Reds to the Dayton Dragons and Flying Pig Marathon.
“It’s time for our students to have a platform on which to work with a live broadcast medium,” he said. “I hyped it with the students in the fall and to have gone from nothing to a radio station in only a few months has been exciting.”
The Quake — Wilmington College Radio is a non-commercial, open-format, online audio broadcast accessible around the world on the Internet at www.wilmingtonquake.com. Upon joining the full-time faculty this fall, Wiget quickly discovered an untapped interest among students in having a radio station.
Woodward, a second-year student from Cincinnati majoring in communication arts, was among the first to get on board.
“I went to a high school that only had a sports broadcasting channel, so when Nick said the College radio station would also have music, I knew I wanted to get involved,” he said. “Being able to share the music I was born and raised on is exciting for me.”
Woodward added that the radio station is the latest hands-on learning opportunity he’s taken advantage of at WC. He starred as Seymour in this fall’s WC Theatre production of Little Shop of Horrors.
Other students are involved with such radio programming as live athletics and sports-related talk shows, a program called “The Green Room” for theatre buffs and a show highlighting the “indie” movement in popular music. And that’s in less than first two weeks on the air!
“Students have graciously been willing to be thrown into the process. It’s been a cool thing to see our students cooperate and collaborate with each other,” Wiget said, noting that, while many of the students are majoring in communication arts or sport management — areas with a direct connection to learning broadcasting techniques — students in other majors, like psychology, are also part of The Quake. Wiget stressed that everyone is welcome and students in any major can benefit from the experience.
“Most successful people are good communicators,” he said, adding that communicating successfully under the pressure of a live broadcast can enhance students’ self-confidence by taking them out of their comfort zones. “I’ve seen involvement in radio bring a lot of people out of their shells.”
Wiget, who advised the campus radio station at Wright State University for three years, said the opportunities for involvement, from on-air personalities to behind-the-scenes technicians and station administration, are as vast as one’s imagination.
“Faculty members have asked about hosting shows and even President Jim (Reynolds) inquired about having a Friday night classic rock show,” he added.
Wiget said the financial investment to get the radio station off the ground has been minimal — less than $2,000 — as he uncovered useful equipment like “a treasure trove of XLR cables” in forgotten storage areas.
When The Quake isn’t airing original programming, music plays throughout the day and night as part of Backbone Student Radio Network, which provides full copyright protection for any music and syndicated programming featured on broadcasts. The station also is supported by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS), which allows WC to share its work with other schools, and vice versa. Also, when the time is right, IBS will help the College secure a low-power FM broadcast license. That’s something Wiget believes would “legitimize” the station in the eyes of some. However, through Internet access, Wilmington College literally is one click away from the ears of the world. But even if only mom is listening, the venture is benefitting students.
“They are developing skills not only for radio, but also for television and digital media — and communication in general,” Wiget said. Indeed, their involvement in learning a transferable skill will result yet another experience in their portfolios they can share with future employers. Also, it’s a legitimate bullet point on their resumes.
The radio station will serve as a component of the new Music and Media minor the College plans to introduce in fall 2019. While the station is non-commercial, the opportunity exists for programming sponsorships in the manner promoted by National Public Radio. Internet radio is not under the auspices of the Federal Communications Commission, however, Wiget said The Quake is dedicated to conforming to FCC standards.