WNJR updates create new opportunities for students

Cassandra Muhr hosts her radio show from the WNJR station in the Howard J. Burnett Center.

WASHINGTON, PA (Feb. 12, 2020)—When Instructor of Communication Arts Dr. Nicholas Maradin arrived at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) in the fall, he inherited leadership of the College’s radio station, WNJR-FM. and saw an opportunity to enhance the opportunities the radio station could offer students. He went to work to do just that.

“Our number one goal is to maximize student involvement and make the radio station a thriving part of campus again,” Maradin said. “It’s a great resource for students to get experience in public speaking and media production, and to gain responsibility. As a broadcaster, our students have a responsibility to the public, and they’re really learning how to serve the community through the radio.”

Under Maradin’s leadership, the radio station has experienced a renaissance, reigniting the passion for student radio on campus. The station provides eight full-time work study positions for students, each hosting their own live, weekly show. There’s also a new crop of independent student broadcasters, students taking an elective course on radio performance and production, and a new addition to the curriculum: a full-credit radio and broadcasting class.

Maradin also offered “JayTerm on the Air at 91.7 FM WNJR” during JayTerm, a two-week term between the fall and spring semester that gives students the opportunity to take courses outside their area of study. After 3 days, the class of 16 were hosting 30-minute shows. In just two weeks, they learned the technical operation of the station, the rules that govern contemporary broadcasting, and developed and broadcast a series of original radio programs.

From a technical standpoint, a new radio antenna has expanded the broadcast reach of WNJR to a 30-mile radius around campus.

For many student hosts, including W&J junior Cassandra Muhr ’21, involvement with the community has always been a priority.

Muhr, a double major in communication and music, hosted a traditional-format country music hour during her freshman and sophomore years at W&J, but wanted to try something new that involved the local music community. She now hosts an hour-long show featuring local talent. She interviews her guests and broadcasts stripped-down performances of their work live from the WNJR studio.

“I’m so passionate about radio, so it’s great to see other students getting involved and becoming passionate about the station as well,” Muhr said. “Professor Maradin and the rest of the Communication Arts department have really been working hard to get the word out, and it’s so exciting to have new people learning about us.”

WNJR broadcasts locally on 91.7 FM, and digital broadcasts are available on wnjr.org and through the Simple Radio app.