KWUR appealing for funding to replace decades-old equipment
KWUR may not have come off the air, but its transmitter was functioning at below 10 percent of its original capacity last week when the group hired engineers from the Society of Broadcast Engineers to check up on its equipment.
“They laughed when they saw our transmitter,” senior Robert Ling III, treasurer of KWUR, said.
As students continued to stream KWUR content online, the engineers managed to raise KWUR’s signal strength to just over a watt—but the group is hoping to improve that with additional funding over the coming year.
KWUR, Washington University’s student-run radio station, has appealed for a total of $62,066.66 in block funding from Student Union for 2012 to 2013. The majority of that amount would go to hosting KWUR week and replacing the worn-down equipment that has kept the station running for over three decades.
“This is a crossroads for KWUR right now,” Ling said. “Our transmitters are like 30 years old, and they are just [about] deteriorated to the point of being done.”
“At the very least, to get back up to broadcast capacity, we need to replace our transmitter box,” he added.
This year is not the first time KWUR has tried to replace its old equipment. But Ling believes that the station’s chance of receiving the funding is high due to increased student interest in seeing KWUR expand its broadcast.
KWUR tried to appeal for block funding in the 2008 to 2009 school year, but failed because it was not able to get two-thirds of students to vote in favor of it.
Ling said KWUR has been maximizing its visibility on campus through engagements such as playing music at the DUC and the South Forty House each week. The number of active student DJs has risen to about 150.
If the appeal passes, Ling said the group will not only fix the old equipment but also upgrade the station’s wattage in accordance to the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. The act allows the station to broadcast at a transmission of more than one kilowatt, pending renovations and a formal application process.
“Part of the reason why we are going out for block funding is—though replacing the transmitter is an expensive project we don’t normally budget for—we are also dealing with the potential of buying an even bigger transmitter or even a new antenna,” he said. “Securing the budget for the wattage upgrade would require buying a lot of equipment and hiring lawyers and consultants.”
KWUR’s block funding appeal includes about $15,800 for equipment replacements and upgrades and $35,000 for KWUR week.
Ling said the group chose to budget a large amount for KWUR week because of the limitations created by the block funding process.
“Since we can’t appeal after we get the block funding, we budgeted more for KWUR week because we don’t know how much it is actually going to cost,” Ling said.
Block funding is usually used to cover a group’s expenses for a period of two years, but due to the fact that a large sum of the money goes towards purchasing new equipment, KWUR is asking for all the funding within one year.
“These are costs we’ve never had before, which would only matter for this year because we would be set for another 30 years,” Ling said. “I’m pretty confident about getting the block funding. Everyone I’ve talked to is very supportive of us.”
Voting for block funding will take place in the SU spring elections on March 6 and 7.