WVKC has a long tradition of broadcasting student programming on 90.7 FM. For over 40 years, Knox students have enjoyed the freedom of creating their own shows and having their own time on the air. While the proposed changes to WVKC spelled out in this week’s top story may seem like an abrupt halt to a Knox tradition, we support the proposal as long as the move online does not diminish the experience of student DJs.
The proposed changes involve an almost complete expansion of a partnership with Tri States Public Radio, a regional NPR affiliate covering southeast Iowa, northeast Missouri and west-central Illinois. If the agreement is signed, 90.7 FM will broadcast NPR and TSPR content 24/7, and the student programming will shift to a web-based HD channel.
The deal is loaded with perks for Knox students — not just those involved with WVKC — and the Galesburg community in general.
Considering the college’s fragile financial situation, it is notable that the agreement would not saddle the college with any added costs. TSPR would provide the equipment and technical assistance needed to make the move to a web-based platform, and all expenses will be covered by TSPR. Meanwhile, WVKC will retain its events budget and student employee pay through the Broadcast, Internet and Publications Board, or BIP.
Moreover, WVKC’s studio would not be altered as a result of the agreement. Student DJs will still be able to use their space in GDH to hang out and air their shows, as the only physical adjustment needed is the addition of the HD equipment.
As was made clear by some contention last year over painting the walls in the studio, that space is important to students and should not be taken away.
We believe this proposed change will help bring WVKC more in line with listeners’ tendencies. Analog radios are a rarity, and to the extent that we rely on the Internet, this change may help WVKC grow its listenership among the student body.
As President Teresa Amott pointed out in an interview with TKS, we’re getting ahead of the game by making the HD switch, which would have been necessary in a few years regardless. And this way, we’re not footing the bill.
The agreement will also help to provide a valuable service to the Galesburg community, now underserved by public radio. The provision of one full-time TSPR reporter in Galesburg may also contribute to a more robust news media, as the small city has one newspaper (excluding TKS) and one major commercial news radio station, WGIL.
The opportunity for student internships with TSPR could prove invaluable for journalism at Knox, and even for WVKC. This is a way for students interested in a career in radio to get some experience at a public radio station and the skills necessary to produce professional-quality radio segments for WVKC. The college markets WVKC as an opportunity for student journalists, and this proposed change could make that a reality.
That said, this process must acknowledge that the student body is an integral component of this change. We urge the administration to ensure complete transparency and challenge both college administrators and BIP to keep the general managers of WVKC involved in this process every step of the way.