By Jade Artherhults
When WWVU-FM, Morgantown’s college radio station, got the news in September that they had been nominated for six of the possible eight College Music Journal awards, it didn’t take long for General Manager Matt Fouty and Music Director Emmi McIntyre to decide on loading up a van of U92 staff for a road trip to NYC.
Before the CMJ nominations were announced, McIntyre said the original plan was that only a few people were going to go to the 5 day event. However, that all changed when they found out about the stack of nominations. When October arrived, 10 staff members and Fouty rented a van and made the trip to the Big Apple where they would later win three of their six nominations.
- WWVU-FM: Station of the Year
- Emmi McIntyre: Music Director of the Year
- Cody Roane: Specialty Show Director of the Year (Urban Diner)
“The running joke when I joined that we had been nominated for Biggest Improvement for about five years in a row, but we never won. And so it was my personal victory that we got nominated for Station of the Year,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre credits U92’s hardworking and dedicated staff for the multiple nominations. U92 is one of the few college radio stations that is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year with live DJs. WWVU is also different from a lot of stations in the fact that they have a regular rotation that makes sure lesser-known artists are getting airtime.
McIntyre says what makes U92 different from every other college radio station that plays Kurt Vile is that U92 also plays similar artists like The Furr, a local Morgantown band. Community involvement and making sure local bands are well-represented on 91.7 FM is something U92 works hard to make happen. The station recently announced Moose Fest, a festival to showcase beloved local bands at 123 Pleasant St.
In a world full of streaming services, radio is still alive and well. And for U92, things are better than ever. All eyes and ears are on the station since winning Station of the Year.
“We’ve really grown into our potential. We have a really great staff now that realize what we can do with radio. Some people underestimate what we can do with it. They want to downplay radio as nothing anymore, but it’s still a very powerful medium.”
-Emmi McIntyre, Music Director
WWVU-FM has been on the air since August 22, 1982. Broadcasting at 2,600 watts, the station is able to reach Morgantown and surrounding areas. U92 was born from three guys who were passionate about music. According to GM Matt Fouty, what is now the station of 91.7 FM used to be called the Listening Room, where friends would hang out and listen to vinyl together.
“They just decided one day, ‘Hey, we should start a radio station!’ So they got with the Board of Governors at the University and got the O.K., and that’s how the station got started.”
-Matt Fouty, General Manager
So, what was one of the first songs played on the airwaves of 91.7 FM? None other than “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
Fouty said U92 is adapting to an ever-changing system to make sure people are able to listen whether they’re in Morgantown or miles away.
“People always say ‘Oh, radio is dead’ because they think of Spotify and all the streaming services and they look at that as radio is dead, but I just see it as changing. It’s really morphing into a different type of broadcast… There are even cars now that have wi-fi that can play online streams, and so we have an internet stream on our website,” Fouty said.
Being a DJ is a great way to gain experience in the world of broadcast journalism, but the skills you learn while working at U92 carry over into real life, according to Fouty.
“The station is here for students to get life lessons and experience that you wouldn’t get in a classroom setting. Like the urgency that you need when figuring out, ‘Okay, I have this much time left on a song before I have to pick another. I’ve gotta have something lined up,'” Fouty stated.
“And if you use that in a metaphorical sense, that’s kind of the way life is. You always have to be in the mindset of, ‘Okay, what do I have coming up next? Oh, well I’ll just treat it like I’m DJing,'” he said.
So, what does Fouty think is next for the station?
“Evolution. Now it’s time to figure out what’s more important: terrestrial radio or strictly online radio? It probably won’t happen for the next 5-10 years hopefully, but we have to be aware of what the next stage of evolution of radio is.”
“I don’t think terrestrial radio will ever truly die, I just don’t know if the standards around that, like the receivers in cars and home radios, will become harder to get,” he said.
Even with all the talk of streaming services and on-demand listening, U92 doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. It’s an exciting time for everyone at WWVU-FM, so be sure to tune into 91.7 FM locally or stream the station online.