WIUP-FM celebrated its 50th anniversary of the station being established and beginning operations.
“WIUP-FM is a federally licensed FM radio station, bringing a variety of programming to IUP and the broader Indiana community,” said Dr. Zack Stiegler, associate professor of communications media and faculty adviser for WIUP-FM. “Aside from my advisory role, the station is operated entirely by students, from DJs to producers, to upper level management positions including the program director and station manager.”
The students that run WIUP-FM choose what type of content they want to air, allowing students, especially DJs, to express themselves through their music tastes and entertainment styles.
The current director of promotions for WIUP-FM, Stephen Smartnick (senior, communications media), said his experiences with WIUP-FM have been “fantastic.”
“It's my favorite club that I’m currently involved in,” Smartnick said. “You can make it whatever you want it to be.”
“We offer quite a variety of programming,” Stiegler said, “including award-winning, nationally syndicated public affairs programs, live play-by-play of IUP football and basketball games, a weekly showcase of live performances from local and student musicians, our in-house roundtable sports talk program and a broad range of musical programming that spans indie rock, classical, hip hop, bluegrass, electronic music, metal, country, R&B, punk, folk, classic rock/oldies and more.”
Stiegler described the station as “patchwork-style" programming. He said the station has “something for everyone and occasionally some interesting juxtapositions.”
Along with the students running the station and their faculty adviser, several community volunteers provide programming over the weekend, according to Dr. B. Gail Wilson, former faculty adviser for WIUP-FM and the chair of the department of communications media.
WIUP-FM posted several photographs from the early years of the station and the technology and DJ set up the students used in previous years.
"Looking at those old photos,” Stiegler said, “keen eyes will spot reel-to-reel tape machines, completely analog consoles, tape cartridge machines (carts) and other technology that is now but a memory of our technological past.”
He said that students nowadays “rely predominantly on digital music,” although he noted that several DJs have “picked up on the resurgent interest in vinyl” and utilize WIUP-FM's in-studio turntables to play music instead.
Stiegler also noted that the programming itself evolves, always maintaining a diverse array of different music styles and programming topics.
“While we’ve always presented a variety programming format,” Stiegler said, “recent years have seen the introduction of BPM, our electronic music program.”
Stiegler also notes the introduction of many diverse styles of specialty programming, including “political talk, jazz, showtunes and reggae.”
Despite the station’s massive technological upgrades throughout the past 50 years, Wilson said that primary function of WIUP-FM hasn’t changed.
“It has always been a place for students to learn about radio and have fun doing it,” Wilson said. “Students gain leadership experience, network with other students and learn more about radio.”
A majority of the students running WIUP-FM are communications media majors. Wilson said that the communications media department does “have related courses, but these are not required for students to be able to be involved in WIUP-FM.”
Stiegler said he sees this lack of variety in WIUP-FM students as something to change in the coming years.
“I think we’d like to see a greater cross-section of students represented on the station staff, as this leads to a greater diversity of voices on the air,” he said. “Although we are housed under the department of communications media, we welcome students from across campus to be a part of the station.”
Stiegler worked on his university’s radio station when he was a college student and notes that the coworkers he met there were and are some of his closest friends.
“I see the same kinds of bonds among students at WIUP,” Stiegler said. “So, I think it’s a great place for students to connect with each other, of course.”
Another aspect of WIUP-FM is the opportunity to work with real industry equipment, schedules and habits.
“In addition to training on the broadcast equipment and working within a semi-professional organization,” Stiegler said, “there are several leadership opportunities for students at the station as well via our many management positions.”
Smartnic recommends WIUP-FM for any students wanting experience with broadcast in general.
“It's a good foundation to get your feet wet,” he said. “WIUP-FM has allowed me to stick to my creativity and make my experience into what I wanted it to be.”
At the end of October, WIUP-FM will be hosting a collaborative event with the video games club, in which students can play the music-based video game “Rock Band.”
In November, it will be collaborating with Her Campus for a bingo event. Later that month, WIUP-FM will also host a rap battle tournament and WIUP-FM Unplugged, an event for local musicians to perform at.