After weighing several different funding options, staff at Western University’s 94.9 FM have settled on a number they think will help keep the station operational.

Currently the station operates on an annual student fee of $12.47, which comes directly out of student ancillary fees.

Western University’s student council held a referendum late last year to decide the scope of student funding towards 94.9 Radio Western. The station serves as a student platform for music, podcasts, spoken word, and entertainment.

The USC decided in the spring that students will have the opportunity to vote on whether the fee will remain status quo, or be reduced to $10.50, $7.47, or $5 over five years.

A manageable reduction

Radio Western Program Director Pam Haasen believes that reducing fees to $10.50 is manageable, and would allow the station to continue to provide quality student programming.

“I believe that a reduction in student funding will not break us as long as it isn’t too drastic too soon,” she said. “At the station we all stand behind the reduction from $12.47 to $10.50 because we don’t want to be a burden on students, so we agree the fee can be reduced and we can pivot and work with that.”

Radio Western held a live to air fundraiser from the London Brewing Co-op.
Radio Western held a live to air fundraiser from the London Brewing Co-op.

To implement the $7.47, or $5 over five years options, Haasen stated, “will result in a reduction in staffing and services such as our production department which would result in less bands having access to our studios, less live to airs, and likely less remote broadcasts.”

Radio Western student volunteers would be also be negatively impacted by either the $7.47 and the $5 options, as Haasen believes these options would mean less experienced directors being in place to provide guidance and training for content that is typically a lot of work to produce.

That includes sports broadcasts, spoken word, news as well as music show hosts having access to someone 24 hours a day.

So much more than radio

Haasen explained the station goes beyond radio management to encourage student volunteers to develop a wide variety of communication and collaborative skills.

The station proudly showcases the talent and the skills of the student volunteers at the station. It gives students the opportunity to express themselves and their work on a broad digital platform to a local and student-based audience.

Not only is the station a hub for student expression, it offers students interested in radio operation and management the chance to gain valuable and applicable experience in the field.

“We offer experience and training in recording technology, digital audio workstations, managing your time, managing time of your team – many spoken word shows are comprised of a couple people – as well as honing your skills as an interviewer,” she said. “After each show, you ask yourself, ‘What worked? What sucked? What got a reaction from the listeners? What did I enjoy doing most?'”

Finding other means

Reducing reliance on student fees at 94.9 FM shouldn’t come at the cost of reducing the poignancy of a student based platform itself. Radio Western is currently working towards finding other means of funding, and exploring different means to lessen their reliance on student fees.

The ultimate goal of Radio Western is fostering experience and expression in its student volunteers. The $10.50 reduction is the most viable option for the station to continue to be a locus for the development and support of student arts.

The referendum vote on this matter will take place on February 5 and 6, 2017.

Feature photo courtesy of Radio Western

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