Another Year Older and Wiser

Samantha Mathewson

The University of New Haven’s radio station celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. The many members on the radio’s staff, including the general manager Bryan Lane, shared in the celebration.

WNHU studio. Photo by UNH.

WNHU is the University of New Haven’s non-commercial, official FCC-licensed FM radio station broadcasting live 24/7 from the basement of Maxcy Hall.

The total staff is compromised of Lane, student station managers and directors, and undergraduate students, graduate students, community volunteers, and faculty members. WNHU’s staffs of DJs and radio personalities are both undergraduate students and community members.

In addition to managing the station, Lane oversees the on-air talent, which features both students and community volunteers, and the wide range of programs it produces. Lane has worked in the radio industry for over 30 years and teaches media courses at UNH.

Katelyn Clark, a DJ on Charger Radio and a member of the promotions team said, “I love WNHU. It really has given me the opportunity to get hands on experience in a field I want to work in after I graduate. I think it is awesome that WNHU allows students to get involved, even if they have no experience, and gives them a chance to learn and grow.”

It is said that the older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune, and with WNHU that sings true. “You never know what you’re going to hear,” said Lane.

There is an element of surprise that comes with WNHU. There are diverse music genres played such as Gospel, show tunes, jazz, doo-wop, and much more. Additionally, WNHU features ethnic shows covering Italian, Slavic, Irish, traditional Irish or Polish varieties, and talk show segments. “WNHU often features stuff you won’t hear anywhere else,” added Lane.

The station is 40 years young, and progresses successfully with each year. Eric Neilson, the operations manager of the radio station said, “One of the changes I’ve noticed at the station is the increased student involvement. Bryan Lane and a few student producers have done a great job putting together the UNHstable.” More student participation is also desired for the afternoon drive show.

UNHstable is a talk show that discusses various different subjects, whether it is news or a specific topic of the day. Guests are invited to come in and talk about their respective organizations. “Its a great way for us to bring more news and involvement from around campus. We’ve had many clubs and other organizations come on and discuss what they’re about or talk about an event they’re holding. We even had one of the executives from Subway come in last semester during the ‘Subway Day’ the school held last semester,” explained Matt Scripter, another member of the radio’s team.

“There have been a few mistakes that have been made, and there were times where the show didn’t live up to its potential, but it’s a learning process. My hopes over the next few years are to reintegrate WNHU into the student body. The best way to do that is to inform the students of what’s going on. The more involved with the student body we become, the more entertainment we can provide. I enjoy working at WNHU because it has so much untapped potential to make the campus more exciting. Providing a large variety of music is a great way to get that ball started,” said Neilson, who also is interested in getting the student body involved because of the connections being built with local music venues. “There’s something for everyone at WNHU,” he said.

“I think the station is always growing, and it’s slowly but surely becoming more student orientated, which I think is great,” said Ashley Fox, the student manager and a music and sound recording major.

WNHU, currently run by the university’s Communications Department, has been through a few different “lifetimes,” Lane described. Forty years ago it began as a mostly student-run station, and it eventually was turned over to community volunteers who were anxious to produce their own shows. “Soon enough the college station wasn’t so ‘college’ anymore,” said Lane.

When Lane joined the team four years ago, part of his job was to move the dial some of the “way back.” However, it did not need to be moved all the way back. “The non-student volunteers are incredibly important. They’re responsible for most of the popular ethnic shows for instance, and their dedication helps the station run mostly live programming 24/7. But that shot of student participation is crucial to the station’s success and relevancy,” said Lane.

Scripter, the Charger program director, said, “There has been a lot of progress made in the past few months. Everyone working at the station has been putting in a lot of effort to build upon the station. The events we’ve held around campus have increased; we have an afternoon show from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday.” Scripter handles more of the Internet aspect at the station and trains new radio members on the soundboard to get them ready for their first shows. He also charts the electronic music brought into the station, and he takes photographs for the many events that have been held this year on campus.

“We’ve been a lot more active on social media; our production team has been creating some pretty awesome material, and we have the new YouTube channel in the works. More is happening everyday and I think that most of the changes have been improving both the quality and image of the station,” added Scripter, who has been working with a few other employees to build the new YouTube channel. “It’s some pretty exciting stuff!”

Scripter is a communications major and said that the radio station is an important facet to that. He also is working towards a music minor, which makes the radio medium even more enjoyable for him. “I wouldn’t say it was my preferred medium but it is definitely an important one to me. I do hope that some of the changes we have been making to the station appeal to many of the other mediums we’re graced with today,” said Scripter. “I fully support most of the ideas that have been brought forward to make the station both bigger and better. I’m proud to be apart of such a great group of people.”

“As a whole, we’ve also become a lot more involved in student life, participating and co-sponsoring all types of things, from events with RSO’s to playing music at sports games. I think this is really important as we’re being represented more on campus and allowing the community to become more aware of WNHU,” added Fox.

“I really enjoy working down there. I’ve been participating in WNHU since my sophomore year and I’ve grown to really love it. I never thought radio was something I’d be interested in but that has changed and I can definitely see it as a possibility after graduation. I believe the interaction with something so real has been a very important part of my growth while at UNH, and I’m really happy to be able to help it grow,” said Fox.

Lane also strives to bridge what he sees as a disconnection between the radio station and the surrounding campus, and between the students and the medium of radio itself. “Is anybody really excited about being on the air? I don’t know,” Lane mentioned as a concern with the option to listen to personalized streams of music via Spotify and Pandora.

Even with other mediums, the traditional radio style of WNHU “fits-in” by producing original radio that invites the audience to communicate back. One listener loved hearing the recordings of classic DJs Lane would play late on Friday nights; so late in fact, the fan could barely stay awake long enough. In response, it was moved up to an earlier slot. Lane explained, “If you see a need, you fill the need. If someone responds to something, you respond to them.”

“Even if the medium isn’t new, WNHU keeps proving that radio is a great way to forge ahead.” WNHU experiments and has a freedom that Pandora or Spotify lack “Letting musically curious DJs control the playlist is an opportunity to get outside of pre-existing boundaries. So is tuning into a talk show exploring a dynamic field like psychology, and debating current events.”

The 1,700-watt signal is able to extend over 30 miles, which is a rare reach for a college station. Anybody anywhere can tune into 88.7 FM via “Charger Radio,” WNHU’s online streaming channel. WNHU also hosts an annual phone-a-thon to help keep radio alive; any and all donations are welcome.