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Friday, April 1, 2005

WXSU LPFM Student Radio Debuts

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University students, friends and alumni today celebrated the opening of their long-awaited Low Power FM station on campus, which will broadcast throughout Salisbury and much of Wicomico County.  The 100-watt Low Power station, WXSU FM, is the first of its kind in Wicomico County and one of only three low power stations on the Shore.  With tongue-in-cheek, the SU student staff decided to cut the ribbon and flick the switch on their ambitious undertaking Friday, April 1 (April Fools Day).  For the first time, student radio, heretofore limited to cable systems and most recently the Internet, will take to the airwaves at 96.3 FM. SU will be saying goodbye to an old friend, WSUR, call letters for the last 17 years, previously WSSC. The letters are changing because WSUR is already claimed by a television station in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Federal Communications Commission rules prohibit duplication. Not changing is the student sound:  “Mostly we’ll play independent artists and other programs you’d expect to hear on a college scene--hip-hop, punk, rock and live talk show including call-ins,” said Christopher Marrow, an SU senior from Bowie, MD, and WXSU general manager. "We think the sound will also be appealing to area high school audiences, who are into the music we're playing, particularly because of the emphasis on independent artists."

He expects a variety of sounds.  When charts of the new FM station were published on the Web site of the College Music Journal, the number of complimentary discs flowing into the station noticeably increased, Marrow added.  Some 30 students will be on the air and another 10-15 working behind the scenes.  Broadcasting 24-7, live shows will be supplemented by automated time slots, a common broadcasting practice, Marrow noted. Range for the new 100-watt signal is approximately seven miles.  According to John Fields, assistant vice president of student affairs and station advisor, the signal may be heard as far north as Delmar, east to Wor-Wic Community College, south to Eden and west to Quantico. Helping students oversee the new facility will be a 10-member advisory board of faculty, staff and alumni, and two advisors with professional experience. Reasons for the step up to FM, said Marrow, included “wanting the challenge of creating a professional mindset among staff that FM requires” as well as reaching SU students, the majority of whom live off campus in the city. The signal will be broadcast from a 100-foot transmission tower at the University of Maryland Lower Eastern Shore Research and Education Center off Nanticoke Road.  “We’re grateful to the UM Center which made this possible, particularly Dr. Reginal Harrell and Mike Kelley, and to Bruce Blanchard at WSCL who provided technical assistance,” said Fields. Studios will continue in the Guerrieri University Center, where they have been housed since 1988.  This marks the latest addition to public broadcasting at Salisbury University:  WSCL-FM 89.5, a 50,000-watt National Public Radio affiliate heard in four states began broadcasting in 1987.  It plays classical music and NPR news.   Its sister station, WSDL 90.7 FM, began broadcasting in 1997 and instituted a popular all-news, all-talk format last year.  PAC 14, a public access cable television station for Wicomico County, began broadcasting in 1999 and is providing popular airings of government meetings and other public affairs. Ironically, the student station is the oldest.  It began broadcasting from a campus dorm November 6, 1973, and according to alumnus Steven Schriver, the first song was “Enter the Young” by the Association.  Some 31 years later, the young are still making their voices heard.                       For more information on WXSU call 410-543-6125 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.


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