Friday, May 15, 2009

WUIS radio station is in the midst of big changes

By Courtney Westlake

A sign hanging in the station of WUIS Radio aptly reads “WUIS Construction Zone”.

Big changes are coming to WUIS over the next six months, as is evidenced by construction debris and storage piled high throughout the station.

“We are truly rebuilding WUIS,” said Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of the station. “We have a federal grant of $137,000 matched locally with same amount for this project.”

WUIS is becoming a fully digital station “inside and out,” Wheelhouse said. The station will be getting technical upgrades that will improve its sound quality and that will also allow those who have special HD digital radios to get extra signals.

“We plan on launching a signal in the fall of alternative music - an alternative public radio format - that will be both on the Web and on HD radio; and down the road, a third station,” Wheelhouse said.

Additionally, the Suggs Performance Studio, funded largely in part by the Suggs family, has played host to several recent performances for WUIS and will be getting a makeover as well.

“Right now, a new studio is being constructed, and then we can begin ripping out the rest of the old radio station,” Wheelhouse said. “Hopefully that will be seamless, but we'll be doing a lot of work over the next six months.”

“We’ll have performances ranging from rock to jazz to classical in that studio and host events and things like that,” he added. “We've had shows in there, but it will be fully functional by October and allow for community forums, recording if someone wanted to record something and allow us to serve both the university community and central Illinois region in a lot of new ways.”

The current WUIS radio station is outdated technically so some of the improvements just needed to be made “in the course of ordinary business,” Wheelhouse said. With the new improvements, WUIS will be able to provide complete service to central and western Illinois and represent the university well in those areas.

“As we try to serve on the many platforms that will be out there, whether it’s the Web or through ordinary radio or digital radio, doing this will allow for more efficiency and allow us to provide more services and access,” Wheelhouse said. “We're excited.”

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