WFNM plans to use new media to enhance station

BY NICOLE MAURICI ’16
Contributing Writer

WFNM, the student-run, college-owned radio station, which features a variety of music, is changing its website in order to make streaming and listening to music easier while preserving the radio’s presence on campus.

As Internet radio stations became increasingly popular, WFNM began streaming online music about three years ago through the IBS Student Radio Network by Backbone. Because of the cost of Backbone, the difficulty with the site to compress audio files, and poor sound quality, WFNM has removed Backbone and built its own web application. Due to the station’s change from Backbone, the radio lost its ability to stream with iTunes. Therefore, students can currently only listen to the radio through the website or the radio.

“We decided about a year or year and a half ago to re-edit and rewrite [the website],” said Eric Belser ’13, co-manager of WFNM. “We also took a look at the cost of backbone, which besides licensing costs is our second most expensive aspect. So we decided to work with a student instead. He is very talented and we decided to have him make it.”

Originally the new website had the radio’s DJs uploading the artists’ songs and images. Yet, according to Belser this proved difficult for the DJs to do. After DJs raised their concerns regarding the new website, Belser and his co-manager, Ed Sinitsa, decided to rewrite and update the website again. Now, DJs can actually stream music and artwork from their own computers like they did two or three years ago.

“We’re streaming it from our own servers,” Belser said. “[It’s as if] we basically built our own Backbone, not at that level, but good enough for our use. The goal is in the future when the website is up and running the songs can only be uploaded to this computer here [in the station room].”

Belser hopes to see more noticeable changes. Not only does he want to keep the standard sports or political talks on air, but he wants to collaborate with The College Reporter staff to inform the College community via debates, special guests, and the most currently updated news.

Belser would also like to emphasize the visual aspects of the website through streaming songs and album artwork.

“The way the website is designed is to bring back the album work and the artwork behind the music,” Belser said.

Now with online radio stations such as Pandora and Spotify, Belser wants to keep things classic and genuine.

“[Ed’s and my] goal has been to keep radio alive in light of Pandora and Spotify,” Belser said. “But our main goal is emphasizing that it’s different than Pandora and Spotify, that there’s someone on the other end of the radio experiencing that music with you. It’s more of a social experience than you can get from Pandora and we’re really trying to put an emphasis on that.”

“We saw college radio not as a dying medium, but rather one that has massive potential if steered in the right direction,” Sinitsa added. “The future is online, access driven content, and WFNM can be that source for the F&M community.”

While the website is almost complete there are still a few changes that need to be made, including a top ten function. This function will track what songs WFNM DJs are playing and how often.

According to Belser, this top ten will be different than what one would see compiled in the top ten on iTunes because the campus is very diverse.

WFNM is setting out to expand by seeking more DJs and people with an interest in music to add variety to the station.

Sign-ups for DJs will be held Sept. 11 7:30 p.m. in Stahr Auditorium. They will be hosting campus music events as early as Sept. 29 with the country folk group Waxahatchee, and they plan to publicize themselves through Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify.

Questions? Email Nicole at nmaurici@fandm.edu.

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