While one may not listen to WVUM on a regular basis, it is impossible to miss the music coming from the two speakers outside of its UC office. Playing everything from typical college alternative and indie rock music to jazz, electronic, hip-hop and live sports broadcasts, WVUM’s eclectic mix is a staple on our campus.
For the past several years, WVUM has been struggling to break even financially. More than two-thirds of WVUM’s funding comes from donations and underwriting from corporate sponsors. It collects more than $20,000 per year from underwriting and private donations. However, the expenses of running a 24-hour radio station, paying licenses fees, doing remote sports broadcasts, equipment maintenance and operating costs eventually overwhelmed it.
In the past couple of years the station has seen its operating costs rise and the dire need for equipment to be updated. It is for these reasons that WVUM is going to the students for help. The proposed $1 referendum in next week’s election is vital in keeping WVUM’s high-quality programming on the air.
Even if one doesn’t normally listen to WVUM, or only listen to the sports broadcasts, one needs to understand the importance of college radio and its niche in the community, especially now that Zeta has changed formats. WVUM is more than just noise that comes from the speakers in the UC. It is one of the highest esteemed college radio stations in North America, according to College Music Journal and is home to the best hip-hop and rock shows in the area, according to the Miami New Times. The station is also a professional outlet for students, and it deserves the support of the student body.
WVUM is currently limited by a studio that is too small and is desperately in need of a digital library. There is also a need for a delay. As it works now, when listeners call in during sports shows or to make requests, there is no way for the station to control what is said. Live internet streaming is also vital for the station. It enables people outside of the Ft. Lauderdale to Homestead listening area to listen to its broadcasts no matter where they are.
The station is 100 percent student-run. The staff is made up of more than 70 DJs, including 12 on the e-board, and about eight or so on the sports staff. It brings together many types of people to create “the voice,” seeking to speak for all the University.
Many clubs and lounges throughout the area wouldn’t be nearly as successful without WVUM giving independent music the exposure it needs. One can even catch some of the WVUM staff, performing throughout the city on any given weekend, including music director Alejandro Piraquive (DJ Alejandro) at I/O on most Saturday nights.
For these reasons and many more, it is important to vote yes on the WVUM referendum. It means a raise to the Student Activity Fee, but for once, it’s an increase that makes sense.