GW radio station WRGW has a new place to call its own.
The station, which broadcasts to the GW community, recently moved into a new, state-of-the-art studio on the ground floor of the Marvin Center.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said senior Jason Cohen, general manager of WRGW. “It’s a dramatic difference to have the station (in a location) where we can be seen and heard.”
Fully visible to people passing through the Marvin Center’s ground floor, the station has two new on-air booths, a professional editing room and an office.
In addition, the station maintains a pre-production room that permits the creation of station identifications and promotions.
The station operates on 540 AM as a common carrier signal and channel 22 on campus cable, but Cohen said he hopes to switch over to an FM signal in order to reach GW’s Mount Vernon campus.
“(The FM signal) would reach anywhere from three to eight square miles and MVC,” Cohen said. “Right now the (Federal Communications Commission) is accepting commentary. If they approve it, it will probably take us anywhere from 12 to 15 months.”
Cohen worked with senior Eva Price to push the new facility for WRGW. The seniors said the 803-square-foot studio was won with aggressive lobbying.
Price said she spent years trying to secure funding and the new location by lobbying GW Vice President Robert Chernak and Assistant Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Mike Gargano.
“I went to Chernak about the future of WRGW,” Price said. “Then I went to Gargano – he really believed in me.”
Price said WRGW secured the new equipment by promising live broadcasts of sports, namely for basketball.
“If we promised to make a difference in sports coverage and basketball games, (Gargano) would make it better for our station,” she said.
WRGW and former station WRTV merged last year. Price, the former general manager of WRTV, said the combination of students has been vital to the success of GW radio.
“It brought a real sense of professionalism,” Price said.
At a cost exceeding $31,900 – most of which came from the University – WRGW was able to buy a complete state-of-the-art system for its broadcasting use, Cohen said.
The station broadcasts weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., and both Cohen and Price said they hope the station will grow to a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week venture.
WRGW operates under a system developed by the College Music Journal, in which disc jockeys have 20 minutes for their own music choices and 35 minutes for top 30 selections, Cohen said.
“Every Monday we have a meeting and decide what music is good for the station,” said senior Dave Ravikoff, music director of WRGW. “We get 30 CDs a week and a lot is garbage. We listen to all the music – when we do this we decide what would be good.”
The station updates its CD log every week, striking the “garbage” from the list of playable CDs, Cohen said.
Seniors Omar Popal and Omar Karim, two disc jockeys, have a radio show focusing on dance music. The two, who regularly DJ in the city, said they enjoy the opportunity that WRGW provides.
“Music is a way of life,” said Popal, who dislikes the rigidity of the programming.
“(The top 30 system is) the one thing we don’t like about it, but our hands are tied,” Popal said. “It’s like say what you want. You have freedom of speech, but you can only use these words.”
Despite the DJs’ freedom of choice for one-third of the hour, the station has adopted a regular college rock format.
“The station generally plays all new music and all upcoming bands,” Cohen said.
Price said she feels confident with the station’s potential for growth after a substantial resource upgrade from past years.
“I see (WRGW) as a force to be reckoned with.the (Student Association) isn’t going to poop on it like it has in the past,” Price said.
With a new location that attracts student attention, Cohen said he has seen an increase in students wishing to involve themselves.
“It’s hard to run a few minutes without people saying, `Hey I’d like to be a part of this,'” Cohen said.
“I see it making a dent in the airwaves of the greater Washington D.C. area, and that’s great for what it used to be – a closet on the fourth floor (of the Marvin Center),” Price said.
The station will hold a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony in October with alumni and administrators.