Ready your antennas

Peter Boyle

When was the last time you put on WLFM? Since the sale of the station’s broadcast license in 2005, those who would have turned the dial to 91.1 FM now head to WLFM’s website and listen to the online stream in iTunes or Winamp.
If you’re not a freshman, it’s very likely that you’ve downloaded the WLFM stream for the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, but it doesn’t have to be January for you to tune in. Even without FM broadcasting capability, the station has diverse programming and wide listenership.
College radio is generally regarded as a platform for underground rock music, fittingly known to some as “college rock,” but WLFM’s schedule accounts for a variety befitting the scope of the LU Conservatory’s sensibilities. Classical programming occupies the Sunday 4 p.m. slot, and the titular variety is certain to be present during “Hip-Hop on the Jazz Bus,” Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Some shows even abandon a music-broadcasting format, according to WLFM’s station manager, Micah Paisner.
“We’ve actually got more talk shows this year than in the past,” said Paisner. “Our top priority is music shows, but it’s great to have some shows with a different dynamic as well. Nobody wants to tune into the radio and hear the same thing over and over again, unless you want to hear the same Katy Perry song on repeat.”
Paisner also noted the presence of an energetic, young staff. “We have more shows this year than any of the last three years I’ve been working here, thanks to a ton of new freshman DJs.”
The station’s schedule is not, however, without its seasoned veterans. Seniors Josh and Luke Younggren and Jake Fisher are DJs for the “Deathbot!” radio show and senior Cait Genovese spins the tables for “Everything but the Kitchen Sink.” All four have hosted their respective programs since the 2007-2008 academic year.
“It’s a variety show,” Genovese said of her program. “I don’t speak a lot, but I like to play the widest variety of music I can and make it flow nicely. I have an hour, and I try not to just play an entire CD.”
The station pushes DJs to promote listenership, said Paisner.
“We also encourage DJs to listen to each other’s shows, because it’s nice to support each other and to know what everyone else is playing,” he continued.
Even for those who have been on-air for the duration, however, generating interest in radio shows is an aggressive, multimedia affair.
“I try to harass people I know, and I’ve made posters this year that I’ll be putting up very shortly,” said Genovese. “I do a lot of [promotion] online. I have a Facebook group and I send out messages and do status updates, and tell people who aren’t in Appleton, or who are out of state, that if they want to listen, they can.”
However, not riding the FM waves can be an advantage for some budding DJs.
“The fact that we are simply broadcasting online now means that more people have an opportunity to be a DJ,” Paisner said. “For the more shy people, it’s nice to know that you aren’t necessarily being broadcast to all of Appleton.”
Though perhaps the online stream doesn’t garner as wide public access as an FM band, its online accessibility can be an idiosyncratic advantage to those who may find appeal beyond Lawrence.
“I definitely do have listeners outside of Appleton, and outside of Wisconsin,” Genovese said. “Once, I even had some guy listening in Scotland.”
It only takes a few moments to tune in to WLFM’s online stream, and this year’s schedule is certainly worth the effort to type in the station’s URL.
To listen to WLFM, direct your browser to http://wlfm.lawrence.edu

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