Indiana State U. partners with NPR affiliate, moves student-run station to weaker frequency

INDIANA — For 50 years, student programming has dominated the airwaves of 89.7 FM in Terre Haute. But by the end of September, the content will be replaced with public affairs and news from an Indianapolis-based National Public Radio affiliate.

Indiana State University on Wednesday announced a partnership with WFYI Public Media, which will rebroadcast its programming on 89.7 FM. The student-produced programming currently broadcast on the station will move to 90.7 FM, which has a weaker signal and less reach. The station will also change its call letters to WZIS.

“The students are definitely on board with a fresh new look and getting a chance to kind of rebrand the station,” said WISU General Manager Richard Green. “The students are excited for the new challenge.”

In order to form the partnership, Indiana State purchased WMHD, 90.7 FM, the student-run station at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, last month. Last fall, WMHD transitioned to an online-only format because the station did not receive the same interest level from students as it did a decade ago, said Kevin Lanke, the adviser at WMHD. This allowed the station’s license to be transferred to Indiana State.

The additional radio station and the partnership with WFYI will “greatly expand opportunities” for Indiana State students, Dan Bradley, the university’s president, said in a media release. Along with the student-produced content at WZIS, students will also be able to participate in the production of local programming on the new WISU station and will have internship opportunities at WFYI.

Although student deejays at Indiana State did not return phone calls or email requests for an interview, Phillip Glende, executive director of student media at Indiana State, said there is some anxiousness over moving to a frequency with a lower power.

“I think there is some concern that we are moving at all to a different frequency,” Glende said, “but I think overall the students are excited about this.”

Currently, 90.7 FM offers 870 watts of effective radiated power, a substantial reduction from the 13,500 watts offered on 89.7 FM. However, Glende said that in the spring the university hopes to upgrade the frequency to 7,200 watts.

Contact SPLC staff writer Mark Keierleber by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 123.