The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Personal Essay: WMWC Station Director recounts radio station revitalization and success under new leadership

5 min read
A group of seven students happy and posing with cut-out designs.

The WMWC event crew poses for a picture after a successful night and their first major event since the station’s resurgence. | Photo courtesy of Davy Washington


Online Editor

For me, a slot on the radio is an hour where I can completely let go and be myself in front of an audience I know expects something amusing to tune in to every week. While I might look crazy sitting in the WMWC Campus Radio station by myself while talking into a microphone, it’s one of the highlights of my week—and for many other DJs as well. 

WMWC Campus Radio is located in the basement of Woodard Hall and serves as the home base for frequent and exciting programming. In the past, schedules were filled with DJs from the early hours of the day until late at night. WMWC’s connections to other organizations and clubs on campus ranged from airing weekly event PSAs to DJing dances and formals for academic departments. 

I joined WMWC in mid-February 2023 as a DJ hosting “Crashburn Radio.” When I first arrived, the leadership team consisted of two seniors and one junior, and in my eyes, they were not fit to run the station. They lacked previous leadership experience and weren’t maintaining the station for students to use it to its full potential. As a result, there were low levels of engagement and little sense of community. 

So I picked up the fallen baton. When executive board elections came around, I ran for station director and began my journey to cleaning up the mess… quite literally. 

I am a junior majoring in English: Creative writing and minoring in digital studies, and I’ve been a club leader for the past two years. Through my involvement with New Student Programs as a peer mentor, orientation leader and NEST coordinator, I gained experience with organizations and about structural management. But the undertaking of bringing the radio station into a new phase of rebuilding was a different beast in and of itself.

When I went to the station for the first time in the middle of February 2023, I knew I had a passion project in front of me. Most pressing was that the station suffered from technical and structural inconsistencies, and the old equipment was left to collect dust and covered in sticky residues. I couldn’t imagine it as a place where people spent their time broadcasting from a radio station with a rich history of resilience and popularity, but I hoped that one day it could be. 

Going into the academic year, my goals were to push the station into a period of physical and organizational reconstruction, restructure the leadership board and event programming and create a space for students to confidently claim the station as the creative space it was meant to be.

I knew from the start I couldn’t do it alone, so I reached out to a few DJs who were interested in bringing the station back to a functional state. 

I met sophomore geography major Allison Parrish during one of their shows to assess their interest in being part of my leadership team. In WMWC meetings, I met Madison Hinton, a sophomore studio art and computer science double major and Leda Hinkle, a senior geography major.

By the end of the spring semester and into the summer, I had done the bulk of the work to get the station into a functioning state. This included meeting with the Finance Committee to get funding for a new broadcasting system and new equipment to support multiple hosts for one show. The Committee seemed excited by the prospect of the radio station’s revitalization, and the station now has new mics and can successfully broadcast online. 

To transition our broadcasting to a more reliable stream, I suffered a long and arduous process with the IT department on campus. By the time the fall semester started, we were up and running—just in time for a new wave of freshmen and returning students to get involved. 

The lack of general information about the station was my biggest obstacle to getting it off the ground. The previous executive board members didn’t know how the software used for broadcasting worked, and they had outdated knowledge of the inner administrative workings of a club, such as soliciting funds from the Finance Committee. Additionally, the login information was scribbled in a notebook or lingering in the depths of the station’s email account, so we cleaned the slate and started anew. 

As an orientation leader in the summer of 2023, I took to Campus Walk to spread the word. During student panels, I addressed groups of incoming students, telling them about the revitalization of the radio station to which I had dedicated so much time. Some students heard about the station and sought me out to learn more, which made me feel like my hard work was paying off.

When the fall semester started, we recruited DJs at Club Carnival, which filled a little over half the schedule. We had a lot of attendance at events, concerts, and on the airwaves—with people on and off campus tuning in. 

By word of mouth and over the airwaves, more students joined the station as DJs for the spring semester, filling about 88% of the broadcasting schedule. Because the DJs from the fall semester had been so engaged, they had also recruited some of their closest friends to join.

But the signal we broadcast is not the only way WMWC brings music and entertainment to campus. Since Aug. 2023, we’ve also had tremendous success hosting events for students and the Fredericksburg community.

WMWC Campus Radio has hosted three on-campus shows, two off-campus house shows, two mixers and a variety of smaller events with incredible turnout. Additionally, compared to the house show culture at universities like the University of Virginia, UMW lacked, so I wanted to bring the scene closer to campus.   

A large qualm I have with UMW’s reputation is that we aren’t a party school. While I would certainly agree with that in some ways, the scene isn’t nonexistent. However, the scene that does exist is often associated with a somewhat negative image. So, with the house shows, my goal was to create a safe and fun environment with live music. 

And we did just that. Using our experience hosting on-campus shows, we knew how to contact and book bands, and we reached out to off-campus fraternities to see if they would allow us to host in their houses. About 100 people attended the rock concert at Psi Upsilon at the beginning of the spring semester, and students celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the second house show, held on the front porch of Kappa Alpha Psi. 

I would be remiss to not emphasize the luck I had with the success of bringing the station back. Through my connections on campus, I spread the word about WMWC and gathered dedicated interest in not just keeping the station alive but also building it to greater heights. 

In light of our events and broadcasting, I am confident that our collective mission of resurrecting WMWC Campus Radio has been a success and that we can look forward to continued growth next year. We plan on hosting regularly scheduled shows on and off campus, recording live acoustic shows similar to NPR Tiny Desk Concerts and expanding our broadcasting hours to fit more DJs into the schedule. 

Tune in from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. all week long through the station’s app “WMWC Campus Radio,” or online: