TV did not kill the radio star, but a rapidly declining transmitter tower just might.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, WUTK, UT's college radio station, will host their second annual College Radio Day event, complete with special programming and live in-studio performances. This year, though, the event will double as a fundraiser, hopefully gathering enough money to make some much-needed improvements.
The transmitter tower, specifically, needs to be replaced, an expense costing approximately $15,000.
Garth Malone, a senior journalism and electronic media major currently doing a practicum at WUTK, has been working at the station since spring 2011.
"If we don't raise the money to make the repairs, the station will loose its terrestrial signal, which would cripple it," Malone said. "The antenna has been up there since the early 80s and isn't going to last much longer. The station receives no money from UT which makes the situation much more dire."
The audio production board, too, needs replacing eventually. This technology costs $10,000.
Funding is a constant source of difficulty for the station, as UT does not provide any financial support to WUTK. Through participating in Worldwide College Radio Day, WUTK plans to finance the replacement independently.
“We aren't funded by UT,” said Benny Smith, WUTK general manager. “So we reach out to community, business leaders and students. … It is unfortunate, but we like to turn frustration into motivation.”
Founder of Worldwide College Radio Day, Rob Quicke, sees the WUTK’s fundraiser as an extension of his organization’s mission.
"College Radio Day is a day when every single college radio station that is possible around the world now – it's become this huge global event – comes together to celebrate the meaning of college radio," Quicke said.
Celebrated at 490 stations in the U.S. alone and in 700 stations worldwide, Quicke stated that, in an age rampant with commercialism, college radio is more important than ever before.
"College radio is still very brave for what it plays and what it produces," Quicke said. “We are fighting to be in a position where we can be in a common pool of money to help stations like WUTK."
Smith emphasized the value of the station to the 75 students who work at WUTK every semester, calling them the "backbone for the station.”
“What really keeps us going strong is our students and our tasteful style of music,” Smith said.
To Smith, WUTK student staff members are "tastemakers" for the campus, playing a vast range of genres and exposing Knoxville to songs long before mainstream radio.
Garth Malone affirms this statement, and said that WUTK has been an immensely instructive experience for him over the last two years. Not only dishing up a variety of music everyday, the station also serves as a “lab” for students seeking broadcast experience.
“The station is important to me because it has allowed me to find my interest in radio,” Malone said. “I love working at the station, I've spent the majority of my time at UT at the station because I enjoy contributing to it.”
As of Thursday, the station has raised $2,700.
For those interested in donating to WUTK’s Impact Big Ideas Fund, visit here.