WSIE radio listenership, funding up under Jason Church

Despite budget cuts last year, those who run SIUE’s official radio station, 88.7 WSIE FM The Sound, have turned it around.

According to General Manager Jason Church, listenership, donations and volunteer numbers are all on the rise.

WSIE is a jazz, smooth jazz, blues and R&B music, news, sports and student programming radio station that broadcasts around the St. Louis area. They play a range of classics and once every hour broadcast local jazz artists as well.

Last year, the station lost its state funding due to state budget cuts. However, underwriting and donations are up this year, helping the station stay on the air.

“At this stage, and we’re not all the way to where we need to be just yet, but we’ve gotten about a 20 percent increase on underwriting … and donations are up about $1,000 compared to this time last year, which is great,” Church said.

Since Church started last year, student volunteer numbers have increased greatly, thanks to advertising volunteer positions in the Morris University Center and around campus.

“The other challenge that was presented was student volunteer involvement,” Church said. “Stephanie [Lewis], our account executive here, came up with a great idea of advertising student positions over in the MUC and in different buildings around campus on billboards and things like that, and that has taken us from around three to six volunteers when I first started …  to about 16 or 17 student volunteers now.”

Some of these student volunteers are on the air doing the intros to music, segues and reading information for the station. Others help with sports programming by doing play-by-play or color commentary.

A student can record their lines in advance and prep them for the station to play later in the day — that way they don’t need to wait around for hours during a shift.

Student volunteers do more than just run the station. On-air positions are always needed, but there’s also a need for business and marketing students.

“With student volunteers, when you think of a radio station, obviously the no-brainers are on-air positions, board operator positions, helping with production and things like that … However, being a radio station that we are self-sufficient at this point, we need help in other positions as well since we are still a business,” Church said.

According to Church, listenership is also up this year, and not just from students. WSIE radio reaches well into St. Louis and beyond, adding to their number of listeners.

“There’s been an increase in listeners as well, not only from the students, I imagine, but also from the folks that are over listening as fans of the station outside of the university,” Church said. “The radio station here is 50,000 watts, so we reach all the way over in and past St. Louis as well.”

Church said he also wants to look into the possibility of podcasts in the future as a way for students to exhibit their creativity. In the past, the station used to have a news show, and he would like for that to return, too.

Sophomore nursing major Madison Young, of Edwardsville,  is interested in podcasts, and she said they might make her check out the station.

“I’ve never listened to WSIE before … [if they had podcasts] I’d be more inclined to listen to them,” Young said. I’m more of a podcast person than a radio person.”

Sophomore exercise science major Sydney Seggebruch, of Dixon, Illinois, was unaware of WSIE but would listen to jazz. As a podcast listener, she would also enjoy WSIE having podcasts.

“I would [listen to jazz] … If I saw [advertisements], I feel like I’d remember it and want to check it out … If their podcasts were about things around campus, interviewing students, I’d listen to it,” Seggebruch said.

WSIE can be listened to at any time on their website, Students can stop by WSIE’s office in the bottom floor of Dunham weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or reach out to Jason Church about potential volunteer work.

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