Why WUMD should stay


By Zack Downing, Staff Writer

Radio is mankind’s oldest source of national entertainment, sending good tunes and important information out to families since the turn of the century.

UMass Dartmouth’s home radio station is one of the oldest facets of campus life, playing tunes for 45 years, before the university even held its current name.

The studio has amassed a remarkable collection of vinyls and CDs from years of broadcasting to UMass Dartmouth and beyond.

Not only have they played every genre of music imaginable, but the WUMD team has also hosted a wide array of talk shows, dramatic readings, political discussions, and anything that could call radio home.

However, over  winter  break, all that entertainment and tradition has been put in jeopardy thanks to a business transaction between UMass Dartmouth and Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR).

It has been decided that, as of now, the WUMD-FM 89.3 FM broadcasting license is going to be sold to RIPR for 1.5 million dollars.

What this means is that RIPR gets to use much of our assets to broadcast from, while the original shows from WUMD gets pushed to online broadcast only.

The only thing left before the transition is complete is for the FCC to sign off on the deal, and then the WUMD station we know and love won’t be the same.

Chancellor Helm was one of the minds behind the sale, and over winter vacation, he and other administration signed off on the deal to give up the reins of the radio station.

The act of quietly selling the station over break was a very shady thing to do; nobody even knew it happened until it was too late.

According to a couple of the employees, the staff of WUMD (including the manager) didn’t find out until the second semester was already underway.

The transaction should have been held with much more decency and transparency.

More detail can be found in a preceding article about the technicalities of the sale, but I’m here to get down to the nitty-gritty: is the sale of WUMD a good or bad idea?

WUMD may not have been the most popular and talked-about organization on campus, but there was definitely a sort of cult following.

There are devoted listeners who enjoyed the eclectic music that played over the radio, and were interested in the various radio shows the station hosted, like Democracy Now!

Selling WUMD is selling a 45-year-old tradition that’s beloved to so many UMass Dartmouth students.

It’s not just limited to our campus, either. There are countless listeners in Southeastern Massachusetts that simply enjoy the music without a connection to the college.

There are also occasionally listeners that crop up in England and Australia, believe it or not.

The loss of the radio station is the death knell for the station’s potential.

I would have loved to have listened to radio shows and talks from fellow students on campus, amateur or experienced.

If enough interest had been drummed up for the station, we could have had entertaining student programming.

So, is there anything positive coming from the sale of WUMD?

Assuming the transaction is approved, there are two aspects of the deal that we can be optimistic about.

For one, most of the $1.5 million is going towards student financial aid, which I know is good news for many struggling students.

Thank the Lord the money isn’t going towards more construction!

The other good news is that RIPR is offering internships for anyone interested in working in the radio business, which aren’t easy internships to come across.

You wouldn’t even need to commute, as the office is right upstairs in the campus center.

So, if you don’t have much of a stake in the life of our radio station, there are a couple positive tidbits coming from the deal.

However, if you don’t want to see the station go, raise your voice and be heard.

There’s a “Save WUMD” Facebook page that hundreds have liked, and you can always go directly to the source and write to Chancellor Helm or the other higher-ups.

Let’s not let our station go down without a second glance like they want.

Photo Courtesy: WUMD

Correction: The RIPR internship will not be in the current WUMD offices, and only 2 will be available per year.


Leave a Reply