“I didn’t even know we had a radio station.”
That was freshman Eileen Kickish’s reaction when she was asked about WRGW, the University’s radio station. Sophomore Molly O’Sullivan said she knew the station existed and even knew a couple of its 150 staff members, but never actually listened to it.
The people behind WRGW say they hope to change that perception next year with a new station and new programs.
“We are in the middle of redefining our image and hope to become a major force on campus,” said junior Jason Cohen, general manager of WRGW. The station broadcasts daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m on 540-AM and campus cable channel 22 to all residence halls and the Marvin Center.
Cohen said most of WRGW’s problems stem from the lack of proper equipment. Organizational difficulties in merging with WRTV, the other University radio station, also disrupted the station’s progress this year, he said.
But the station’s improvement efforts are finally coming to fruition. A new, state-of-the-art radio station will be unveiled this fall as a focal point of the Marvin Center’s ground-floor renovation. Cohen said he is sure the new station will be an improvement over the station’s current premises on the fourth floor of the Marvin Center, a single room that operates with the minimal assistance of a single audio board and several CD players.
Cohen, who has been involved with campus radio since his freshman year, worked with the GW’s engineers and architects to design the studio and order new equipment for the station.
More than 800 square feet wide, the new station will be glass-enclosed, with computer-based sound editing equipment compatible with mini disks, zip disks and CDs. It will feature a pre-production room and an on-air production studio, which will allow students to work on promotional advertisements in one room while a show is being produced in the on-air room. Students in the area will be able to see into the glassed-in on-air booth.
The division of Student and Academic Support Services financed the $30,000 station because the administration believes strongly in student radio, Cohen said.
In the on-air room, five microphones will allow the station to interview bands and hold round-table discussions, said music director Dave Ravikoff, a sophomore. He said he hopes to bring bands into the station for live shows in the future.
Ravikoff, who has been involved with WRGW since his freshman year, said he plans changes in the music programming available on WRGW, focusing the selections toward new music, instead of top 40 tunes. He also said he would like to introduce time slots when disk jockeys have more freedom. During this time, the DJs will be able to mix their own favorites and personal tastes into the music rotation.
“We don’t get callers on the show because nobody knows we’re on or what we’re doing,” said sophomore Michael Norton, a WRGW DJ, whose show with Ravikoff airs once a week for about two hours.
He said DJs gauge who is listening by the number of calls they receive during the show. Norton said his show got only two or three calls last semester and has not gotten any this semester. He thinks the more visible new station will make students more aware of the station and will increase the number of listeners.
Along with music, WRGW also covers sports and news. The sports department’s main focus is GW basketball, and it offers live coverage of all men’s and women’s games, even at away games. WRGW also covers baseball, but the coverage is not live because of a lack of facilities. Cohen said WRGW will try to make baseball coverage live and possibly extend its coverage of GW sports next year.
Changes also will occur in the news department.
“We want to increase to quality of the news programming,” said freshman Sara Prohaska, news director for WRGW. She began as a reporter first semester and was promoted to news director this semester.
Prohaska said WRGW broadcasts news twice a week at 6 p.m. for about 15-20 minutes. She wants to expand the coverage next year to four to five days a week.
“We’ve had a hard time this year because we don’t have many reporters,” said Prohaska. She said the station is actively seeking reporters.
Along with the expansion of the amount of coverage, Prohaska also wants
to expand the scope of the news with stories from U-WIRE, a national university wire service, and articles relevant to the D.C. area. Another goal of the news department is to reformat the presentation of the news so that more information can be presented in an interesting manner. Prohaska said the department will focus on the quality of writing and assigning steady beats.
Students in the news department also have attended symposiums given by Corey Flintoff of National Public Radio. Slots of time will be set aside for talk shows with topics ranging from politics to sports, Cohen said.
Besides changes in programming, WRGW also will develop strategies to increase its visibility on campus. Cohen said he is considering several Internet options, including broadcasting over the Internet on a Web site that is being developed for WRGW.
Its new headquarters won’t use records, so the station is selling its vinyl album collection this Friday on the Marvin Center’s H Street terrace. The proceeds will be spent in the new station, in a new millennium of GW radio.