WUMD radio thrives in fully online medium

By Allan Pilch, Contributing Writer

Back in the spring, UMassD sold off the long running radio frequency 89.3 FM the former home of WUMD, the school’s radio station.

The frequency was sold to Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR), the sale was made official on June 26 of this year. The sale drew controversy over the lack of transparency of the process and the lack of informing the student, faculty and alumni.

The radio station was hit hard by the sale. Many longtime staff left because of the loss of the FM radio station.

Longtime listeners who didn’t like the switch, or found the lack of a FM transmission inconvenient, moved away from the station. Not much has changed for the people still working at the station says WUMD station chief Jenn Mulcare-Sullivan.

WUMD has switched to completely online streaming services since the sale of the frequency. For the past few years, WUMD had implemented an online streaming service for listeners to access the station on their phones, computers and tablets, alongside the long running FM station.

For the station, there wasn’t a massive change in terms of what they needed to do, with the exception of brand new equipment being installed. The station will be fully updated by October.

With the upgrade, the station will no longer deal with any audio difficulties for a better listening experience and less static noise.  They have been focusing their entire effort towards improving and adapting new systems for listeners to access their music.

To attract more involvement from the community, WUMD have begun to use other means to actively involve their listeners. There is a new app currently being developed, so listeners can easily access the radio’s content on their phones. The problem is, since listeners will most likely be on their phones listening to music, they won’t be able to call in to shows while listening.

While different shows are broadcasting, live stream video is also being uploaded so people can become more involved in the station.

When asked about how big of a difference the DJs had to adjust to, Ms. Sullivan said that the biggest challenges that face the radio DJs is that, because of the switch, it is harder for listeners to call in and make requests. After conducting a few surveys about what the listeners think concerning the switch, the station learned that a majority of those who participated disliked the new medium that the radio station has fully committed to.

A large portion of their fan base is rooted locally in the South Coast of Massachusetts. On top of this local community is a variety of international listeners living in several nations around the world including Jamaica, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, Pakistan, Latvia and South Korea to name a few locales.

Many International artists will send their music to the station to get airtime on American radio and expand their range of an audience to beyond their home country.

By promoting smaller, lesser known groups, WUMD has unique qualities that wouldn’t be normally seen in other radio stations.

“We get a lot of artists who want us to play their music during our various radio shows,” says Jenn Sullivan. Artists from Jamaica especially, will send their music to WUMD because of the “Roots Radical Connection” program.

WUMD is partnered with the Pacifica News Network, which prides itself on furthering and sustaining grassroots community radio. WUMD hosts a show every day at 11 a.m. called Democracy Now! A one hour show dedicated to discussing recent topics and produce independent news stories.

Readers interested in listening and supporting our local station can listen to WUMD live on their website. To use a smartphone or other device you can listen in on TuneIn or Simple Radio. To contact the station directly you can email them.

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