February 15, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – After several years of research and planning, Illinois Wesleyan University’s student-run radio station, WESN 88.1 FM, began Webcasting its music programs on February 5. Listeners can access the Webcasts through WESN’s Web site, www.wesn.org/881.
“We really wanted to boost our listenership levels, and the only way to do that was to stay abreast of new technology,” said WESN Promotions Manager Kari Irwin, a junior religion and philosophy major from Palatine, Ill.
The WESN staff decided that Webcasting was necessary in order to compete with online music services and video streaming sites such as YouTube. “We conducted surveys of the student body and found out that no one really listens to the radio anymore,” said Irwin, who has been on the WESN staff for three years. “Webcasts have completely rejuvenated the station.”
Plans for Webcasting began about eight years ago, said Irwin, but WESN was not able to begin immediately. As Webcasting was a new technology, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took time to adjust their policies to regulate it. Once assured that Webcasting was legally sound, the University gave WESN permission to broadcast its radio programs over the Web.
Webcasting put several new demands on the station, from updating technology to re-training the DJs. Because the laws regarding playing music on the Web are different than those regulating radio broadcasting, WESN spent nearly a year preparing to Webcast.
“We had to do tons of legal research and adjust our subscription services to pay the recording and promotion companies for the rights to use the music online,” said Irwin. “Now that we’re on the Web and anyone in the world can listen, our record keeping has to be really detailed and careful, so we have computerized records now,” said Irwin.
WESN has been Webcasting Illinois Wesleyan basketball games since last fall and has received positive feedback, especially from parents of basketball team members. Since beginning Webcasting, listenership levels have increased, according to the monthly reports WESN receives.
Almost all WESN programs are currently available online in audio streams. “We’re all really excited about it,” said Irwin. “Every time the stream is on, there’s a show. That’s been a lot of work itself, running into the studio at two in the morning to turn off the stream. But, it’s been really cool,” said Irwin. ”
To access WESN Webcasts or for more information about programming, visit www.wesn.org.
Contact: Jessica Block, ’09 (309) 556-3181