WLFM to be broadcast in Union Grill

Melody Moberg

Evenings at the Union Grill will soon be enhanced by the sounds of live student radio. WLFM is working with Arno Damerow and ITS to install a portable internet radio broadcaster in the Grill. The switch, occurring this week, will raise awareness of the station, increase the listener base and make the experience of running a radio show more like “real-world” broadcasting.
The broadcaster will include a screen showing the title and artist of the song being played. Student programming will replace the FM stations normally played in the Grill from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, with shorter hours on Friday.
WLFM is more accessible today than it was in the past. Web-based broadcasting is accessible wherever an internet connection is available, so the availability of WLFM is much greater than when it was over the air alone. However, switching to an entirely web-based format means listeners have to make more of an effort to tune in.
Broadcasting in the Grill will increase the exposure of Lawrentians to WLFM. Station manager Christ Wright claimed, “with broadcasting in the Grill it becomes more like listening to radio in your car or on the boombox. People can simply walk into the Grill, hear something great and can then tune into WLFM on their own, or at least check out bands or music they’ve just heard.”
WLFM began operation in 1956. The station shared 91.1 FM with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network. WLFM began web-casting in April 2001. In late 2005, aging equipment and a low signal prompted a conversion from an over-the-air FM broadcast to an all-web-based format. The station’s license and the 91.1 broadcast frequency were sold to Starboard Media Foundation, a nonprofit Green Bay company.
WLFM is owned by Lawrence University and operated by students. During the academic year, live student programming is broadcast seven days a week in the evenings, from around 5 p.m. to midnight. During off hours, an auto-generated shuffle of music plays continuously.
“WLFM tries to play and promote independent artists and music so we’re hoping that having it playing in the Grill and public spaces will allow these artists to get airplay, and to reach an audience that they normally wouldn’t reach,” Wright said. He adds that having their shows played in a public place is “a great opportunity for the DJs to have some public broadcasting experience and exposure.”
This public exposure also means that shows will need to adhere to stricter standards regarding content. Nicole Capozziello, who co-hosts a talk show with Jamie Gajewski, is optimistic about the switch, although she will have to stop swearing and “talking about crazy Lawrentians.” She continued, “Although changing our vocabulary/subject material on our show will be a little difficult at first and annoying at times, I feel it is definitely worth the trade-off of being broadcast on campus.”
After a trial period in the Union Grill, the Coffeehouse may also begin playing WLFM by the end of this term.
WLFM can be heard online at www.lawrence.edu/sorg/wlfm. If you are interested in contacting WLFM or applying for a radio show, visit www.lawrence.edu/sorg/wlfm/contact.