Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Making Waves

Today’s launch of WSUM is a testimonial to the tireless efforts of hundreds of students and staff over the years. WSUM didn’t just happen.

In the fall of 1973, during my first semester on the UW-Madison faculty, a group of students met with me to discuss the prospects of obtaining a license for an over-the-air radio station. This group, made up mainly of staff members from what was then WLHA radio, quickly convinced me that a student radio station was long overdue on the UW System’s flagship campus.

But the effort to get on the air was not easy. Over the intervening 29 years I met with, advised and encouraged a variety of similar groups of students, most of them affiliated with one of the two carrier-current dorm stations, WLHA or WSRM.

Despite their efforts, most groups were unable to realize their objective for one or more of three reasons. Either (a) they didn’t have the resources, (b) they didn’t have the expertise or (c) (surprise) they graduated. Yes, a number of times there was a void in these ongoing efforts because the students did what students are supposed to do — they graduated.

Finally, eight years ago, a group of students began what would prove to be a successful initiative. This time the essential components came together.

They had the expertise, and, thanks to the involvement of student government, they finally had the resources to make the station a reality. It took longer than we anticipated at that time, but this much-needed resource is now available to students on the Madison campus.

Although the efforts leading up to this day have been driven by students, the station could not have come about without the expertise and personal involvement of a number of individuals. Today’s students should be particularly thankful to:

— The UW-Madison campus administration, notably long-time Associate Dean of Students Roger Howard and Assistant to the Chancellor Lamarr Billups. Both lobbied eloquently on behalf of student radio.

— The UW Board of Regents, which agreed to apply for and to hold the station license. They expressed confidence in the UW-Madison student body.

— Charles Stathas, general counsel emeritus for the UW System. He went above and beyond his job to represent the station during a variety of legal challenges.

— Dave Black, WSUM general manager, who has been the heart and soul of the station. Dave has provided an important guiding hand throughout the process leading up to today.

— Mario Gobel of the town of Montrose, who agreed to permit the station’s tower to be built on his farm. And then Mario stayed the course.

I have always been an advocate of student radio because I firmly believe the station has an important educational mission on campus.

Yes, students learn in classrooms. But they also learn outside those classrooms. Activities such as student newspapers, student clubs and organizations, student government and now — finally — student radio enrich and supplement the learning process.

What I find especially exciting about WSUM is that it is licensed to serve more than the UW-Madison campus. Although students are clearly at the center of the station’s target audience, WSUM is licensed to serve the Madison community. Its signal can be received throughout the isthmus and beyond.

The station is a wonderful opportunity for students with a wide variety of interests — news and public affairs, music, sports, cultural affairs, etc. — to utilize their new resource to the benefit of the Madison community.

Will the students make mistakes? You can count on it. That’s what learning is all about. Will they repeat them? We hope not. That’s also what learning is all about.

I am proud to have been a part of the efforts that have brought us to this day. I am thrilled UW students now have this long-overdue resource available to them. And I challenge them to use this resource to further their education and to serve the student body and the Madison community. Welcome to the airwaves, 91.7.

Dr. James L. Hoyt ([email protected]) is a professor emeritus in the School of Journalism.

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