Fifty Years on Air, W&J Student Radio Station Celebrates College Radio Day

WASHINGTON, Pa. (Oct. 10, 2011)—Nearly 50 years to the day since WNJR began operations as WAJC, Washington & Jefferson College’s student radio station is not only reflecting on its own first half century, but also celebrating the significance of college radio in general.

WNJR (91.7 FM) is one of more than 300 college radio stations participating in College Radio Day Tuesday, Oct. 11, to encourage people who would not normally listen to college radio to tune in.

It’s WNJR’s golden anniversary, but, as faculty adviser Anthony Fleury points out, the station is not resting on its laurels.

For one, jazz programming has been added this academic year. The emphasis on jazz, Fleury said, was important for those who might be missing the genre with WDUQ in Pittsburgh’s recent format change from jazz to public affairs programming.

“We wanted to reach out to the jazz crowd in the area to meet a need in the community,” Fleury said.

Organizers of College Radio Day believe that college radio represents one of the last remaining examples of creative radio programming, free from the constraints of having to be commercially viable.

“I think of the main mission of college radio is educating students, with a secondary mission of community service, and often those functions overlap.  College stations fulfill these missions to lesser and greater degrees,” Fleury said. “Our goal at WNJR, as at many college stations, is to balance these functions.”

Fleury said in terms of educating W&J students, the radio station implements three approaches: first and foremost, it is a communication lab in which students develop their voices and skills for course credit. Second, it is an extra-curricular activity that allows other students to do something fun, such as play new music, or talk about politics, while developing communication and technology skills.  Third, for a select number of students who are hired to be on staff, it is an office lab in which students interact with external businesses and practice management skills and other tasks that have tangible consequences.

WAJC first hit the airwaves on Oct. 8, 1961.

For more information about WNJR, visit http://www.wnjr.org/.

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College Radio Day: Oct. 11, 2011