Thursday, December 4, 2008

Community Radio in New Bedford


Community Radio is reflective of the community it serves and offers listeners content that is often overlooked or rejected by mainstream media and produced by volunteer, non-professional disc jockeys and producers. The website Save Grassroots Radio states that community radio stations are cultural institutions to the communities they serve, and that it is vitally important to fostering community and identity through civic participation in community radio. WUMD, a college radio station broadcasting out of the UMASS Dartmouth Campus serves primarily the New Bedford and Fall River area, but their broadcasting reaches from Providence to the Cape as well. WUMD has grown over the last 25 years, expanding their offerings in both musical genres as well as public affairs.

Community Radio

WUMD broadcasts at 89.3FM from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Recently however, they were forced to broadcast only via their website at , because on August 11th they were knocked off the air by a string of powerful thunderstorms, and they have since fully restored their transmitters.

Formerly known as WSMU, UMass Dartmouth's eclectic radio station, increased its power from 1,200 watts to 9,600 watts on June 10, 2006 increasing the station's average range from 15 miles to 25 miles, moved from its 91.1 location on the FM dial to 89.3 and changed its call letters to WUMD, reflecting the station's location at UMass Dartmouth.

Today the WUMD signal easily reaches the Providence, Newport, Taunton, Bridgewater, Plymouth and upper Cape Cod and the Islands markets while continuing to serve greater New Bedford and Fall River. In addition to other updates, WUMD utilizes cutting edge of technology with a high definition transmitter that allows the station to deliver CD-quality sound and provide the listener with the artist and song title on the display of their HD radios.WSMU first broadcast from a basement closet in the university residents' cafeteria as a 10 watt station. The Board of Trustees of then Southeastern Massachusetts University recognized and approved the organization in 1972. In the fall of 1974, WUSM upgraded its power and moved to its current location in the campus center. WUSM changed its call letters to WSMU in 1989.WSMU, a non-profit educational radio station, has been an outlet for ideas and forms of artistic expression which are not widely available in the station's broadcast area. Their mission being to feature an eclectic range of musical and informational alternatives to take you one step beyond passive listening.Public affairs programming on the station addresses current issues relevant to the university and surrounding communities with an emphasis on voices and viewpoints which are underrepresented in mainstream or commercial media coverage. The station produces nine public affairs shows, each airing weekly, and airs several independently produced programs. The stations public affairs shows with call-in segments are an effective way to give listeners a chance to be heard, and are a very important part of their station programming.

Another way the station fosters community participation and invites community members to share their interests and opinions is to provide a learning environment in which students and community residents can gain knowledge and experience in various aspects of radio broadcasting. The station offers free training sessions three times a year.

With all that WUMD has to offer the community that it serves, it also has the challenges typical of a community radio station to contend with including programming, personnel, finance and development, but it relies on students and volunteers to fill these gaps and serve the campus and community with in-depth public affairs programming, and an endless variety of musical alternatives.

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