KWOU is on the (Internet) air

MONMOUTH -- "This is DJ Gump for KWOU Radio ... playing good music from the last 40 years.

MONMOUTH -- "This is DJ Gump for KWOU Radio ... playing good music from the last 40 years.

"If it's good, it's on KWOU .... ah-woooo!"

Pat Gump, the originator of that prerecorded spot, a student and an engineer for Western Oregon University's fledgling radio station, finishes loading a string of songs by David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Hollywood and Dead, and Sublime into a computer broadcast application.

Sasha Williams, station manager and host of "Sashtafarian," a show which will follow, chuckles.

"Yeah, that will make a good segue into my reggae," Williams said.

Chatter and tunes have been permeating the airwaves on campus -- check that, cyberspace -- on a daily basis from KWOU's closet-sized studio in the bowels of the Werner University Center.

Last fall, the university established an Internet radio station as a way to bolster its student-run media. At anytime of the day, a listener -- or viewer, technically -- can surf over to www.wou.edu/student/kwou for an eclectic mix of rock, pop and other music genres, as well as a sports talk show.

"It's been hard, but really worthwhile," Williams

said. "Just knowing that this was a concept not even a year ago and now it's happening ... we're here doing something, playing music for people."

Western's student media board oversees the school's newspaper, a literary magazine and, at one point, a television station that aired on public access.

Last year, officials decided to pull the plug on the TV station in favor of a radio station after students opined in a survey that they wanted a radio station on campus.

A traditional broadcast station wasn't an option, as acquiring an antenna, a frequency, FCC licensing and other components of a traditional broadcast station could run hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Shelby Case, WOU student media adviser.

Conversely, an Internet station could be set up on the cheap, with a few microphones, a sound mixer, a hard drive and specialized software. WOU president John Minahan donated a couple of computers and the station streams for free over a university server.

Total budget? Less than $5,000 for the current school year, Case said.

"The advantage of Web radio, besides being cheap, is relatives and friends and anybody can listen to it from anywhere," Gump said. "It's not just a 10-mile radius."

There are four student DJs running their own music shows. "Sweet Sports Talk" provides interviews with Western's coaches, players and banter about college sports.

The station is still very much in its infancy, Williams said. Because KWOU doesn't have the ability to monitor "viewers" through current software, she isn't sure how many people are actually tuning in.

Still, goals for the future include streaming coverage of campus and community events, concerts and involvement by non-campus area residents.

One already on board is Mark Fancey, Monmouth's community development director. A music collector for more than 40 years, Fancey thought it would be fun to share some of that on the radio and has become KWOU's first volunteer DJ.

His "The Grateful Dead Show" airs from 5 to 7 p.m. every Monday.

Fancey said when he attended Southern Oregon University, a radio station based on the campus figured largely into life in Ashland. He said he would like to see KWOU do the same for Monmouth.

"It's just another thing to expand media outlets within our community," he added. "We're always looking for ways to communicate."

Want to Listen?

* Listen to KWOU live by visiting www.wou.edu/student/kwou. For more information, call 503-838-8900 or contact station personnel via e-mail at kwou@wou.edu.

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