Did you know that the University has its own radio station? It’s true.
Student-run KWUR 90.3 FM is housed in the basement of the Women’s Building, but its signal is sometimes hard to pick up even on the South 40. Despite this, the station is gaining a loyal following.
In fact, it was recently named the best radio station in St. Louis by the Riverfront Times.
“The popularity of KWUR is growing because of the aggressive marketing campaign we’ve started,” said Jim Hayes, coordinator for student media groups. “We are really starting to push the station, and we’ve increased the ways people can listen.”
Hayes mentioned that the station’s signal is available on Channel 19 on local cable and on the Internet at kwur.wustl.edu.
“We are really excited to have more avenues for people to listen,” he said.
Another reason for the station’s popularity may be its wide-ranging playlist.
“I think one of the things that’s so powerful about KWUR is that you can turn it on at any time of the day or night and hear many different types of music,” Hayes said. “If you don’t necessarily like what’s playing, you can stay tuned and possibly learn to like something new.
“And then in an hour’s time, the genre will change. We can go from wave or ska or punk to metal to blues to jazz during one broadcast day. It really runs the gamut.”
There are about 60 disc jockeys at the station who volunteer their time in one- or two-hour slots. Prospective DJs must undergo a semester-long training course where they learn the rules of the station and the Federal Communications Commission.
KWUR is run very much like a commercial radio station.
“Since there isn’t a broadcast major on campus, when I first came here three years ago I was concerned that the commitment to broadcasting excellence might not be there,” Hayes said. “I could not have been more wrong.
“Even though being on the air is not a requirement for a class, the student DJs take it very, very seriously. Everyone who’s at KWUR really wants to be there.”
Junior Spencer Kathol, a computer engineering and finance double-major and the station’s general manager, agrees.
“I’ve been involved with KWUR since first semester freshman year, and I have learned more about the underground music scene than I ever thought I would,” Kathol said. “I also have enjoyed hanging out with some of the coolest people at this school.”
Thanks to the recent resolution of a situation involving the station’s 10-watt signal, it can now be heard as far away as downtown St. Louis, greatly helping its exposure.
The station has been trying unsuccessfully — for several years — to get an upgrade to 100 watts so it can broadcast to the entire St. Louis region. More studies are being done to evaluate the feasibility of such a move.
Until then, this little station that could will keep broadcasting its huge variety of student-run programming for people not only on campus but also around the world, thanks to the Internet.
“I’m very proud of the students who work at KWUR,” Hayes said. “Every accolade the station receives directly translates back to the students.
“I’m very happy that other people are starting to notice the tremendous amount of work they put in.”