Student radio station WTSR may face shut down

(Image courtesy of WTSR)

Since Governor Chris Christie announced his budget proposal for fiscal year 2011, the prominence of potential cuts to programs, especially in education, have plagued the news. The College is no exception. Among other programs, the student-run radio station, WTSR, is currently being considered to be shut down next year according to John Laughton, dean of the school of arts and communication.

“I have been asked by the Provost to consider ways of consolidating programs and looking at cost saving measures,” Laughton said in an e-mail interview. “I am collecting information to respond to this request. No decisions have been made, nor will they be made without thorough review.”

According to Kevin Potucek, assistant director of radio, television and film communication studies and advisor to WTSR, as a small academic program with an expensive overhead cost, WTSR is a “reasonable program to look at” in regards to program consolidation. However, he and the organization have been working to prove the significance of WTSR to the campus community by writing letters to the vice president of college advancement, John Marcy, as well as seeking other sources of funding, should the school of arts and communications drop the organization.

“I believe that WTSR is an absolutely essential part of the campus. I also believe that many other staff, students and alumni feel the same way,” Potucek said.

Many students are adamantly opposed to potential cancellation, such as Darren Farinas, former station manager of WTSR. Farinas was station manager from April 2008 to March of this year and said his experience has granted him insight into the importance of the organization. He said in addition to providing the campus and surrounding area with exposure to a variety of genres and forms of music, WTSR is a consistently major contributor, by request, to Welcome Week and events coordinated by the College Union Board and ResLife, as well as many others. He also said the organization provides invaluable experience to those involved.

“WTSR’s student volunteers gain so much from being a part of the station. The relationships students build with each other is an added bonus, but the skills students can develop through their on- and off-air experience can never be gained in a classroom,” Farinas said in an e-mail. “My public speaking skills, ability to multitask, lead an organization, improvise, collaborate with other organizations and plan ahead have improved exponentially as a result of my involvement with WTSR.”

Involvement in WTSR has enabled students to secure internships such as Billboard Magazine and AM ESPN Radio, an experience perhaps unavailable without WTSR, he said.

“As for me, I would be devastated to see something happen should WTSR have to close down as a result of a lack of funding,” he said. “Our volunteer base has risen from 40 in 2008 to over 100 in 2010. To see all of the work that we have all put in go to waste would be a huge blow to all those involved, and to see all of this hard work be for nothing.”

Justin Dilks, sophomore interactive multimedia major and contributor to the Friday night show, “The Song Remains the Same,” said the station helps students prepare for working at other stations in the future.

“It’s a great way for communication (studies) majors to learn the procedures and what it takes to work for radio,” he said.

The station is currently in the process of setting up a website for donations to be made to WTSR, according to Melissa Virzi, the current station manager.

According to the website, WTSR, though the name has changed, has been the College’s radio since 1966. It has an average weekly audience between 50,000 and 100,000 listeners.

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.