By Mikayla Cooper
Amy Irving’s rendition of “Why Don’t You Do Right” plays over WUTS 91.3 FM, “The Voice of Sewanee,” as the student-led radio station broadcasts her voice over its six-to-eight mile radius, blanketing the mountain with Irving’s chastising words.
More than 50 DJs and 40 radio shows call WUTS home, all run by Sewanee students. Some first arrived at WUTS for their work-study position. Others just showed up, grabbed an application, were trained, and then sat down to their own scheduled hour on air, which is typically 59 minutes and 59 seconds once the button is pressed.
In reference to the “student active” nature of WUTS, KT Pritchard (C’22), one of four station managers, believes the radio station is a “fantastic platform for creativity and individualism.” She explained further, “Students have an outlet for creativity in a low pressure, comfortable environment here.”
Hilary Ward, WUT’s faculty advisor, praised the diligence of station managers and DJs alike as all the students involved take on the responsibility of representing Sewanee. She wishes “this could be a class,” since learning how to run a radio station is “part of [the students’] education.”
“Because this is a liberal arts college, students should have the opportunity to learn how to do this,” said Ward. “There are people who have left this University who are now working professionally in radio.”
When discussing the opportunities available at WUTS, Ward also mentioned that slots are still open. She said that she would like to showcase more current events on air. While students read public announcements during their own shows in an effort to “promote what else is happening on campus,” newcomers do not need to worry.
“I can expect 90 percent of our people coming in to be new,” she said. “That’s part of the gig.”
In fact, both KT Pritchard and Colin Smith (C’22), another station manager, are new to WUTS. New students can expect to be trained under Ward or Richard Pryor III (C’20), a station manager who has also hosted his own radio show in the past year. They can also “tag-team” with upperclassmen when doing their show.
“This has to be something happy people are doing every week. This is not intended to be stressful,” she said. Ward tried to quell the anxieties of interested students, and she encourages them to stop on by. “It is something I really want people to enjoy and look back on in their University career as being a highlight,” she commented.
Looking to the future, WUTS will soon be available to students on the TuneIn app for easier accessibility. The program guide, which hosts the online stream link that is up at any time, is also expected to be updated soon.
WUTS’s current CD room will be renovated over fall break, transforming the room into a space where musicians can perform live music on air.
As WUTS expands, Ward looks forward to the day that “100 students are involved,” doubling both the number of DJ’s as well as radio shows.
“It is not just one more activity to worry about. Students should see this as something fun they’re doing for an hour every week,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for students to literally hear their voice because they get to pick what they are doing.”
Within reason, WUTS is an unfettered source for students’ creativity, an opportunity for them to “contribute a little bit of themselves,” in Ward’s words.