Thursday, April 15, 2010

Campus radio station grows to give students more hands on experience



When The Prairie Star, the Internet based campus radio station of the University of Illinois Springfield signed on the air in February 2008 it was broadcasting from a small room in University Hall.

Now two years later, the station has grown. It is complete with an audio lab, on-air and production studios in the Student Affairs Building (SAB). The station was designed to serve as a learning environment for students in addition to helping connect the campus.

“We’re on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week streaming on the Internet. We’re not actually over the air because there are no frequencies available. We hope one of these days that changes,” said Jim Grubbs, station creator and association professor of communication.

The station operates with a classic rock format during the day, but at 3 p.m. the “plugs are pulled out” as they switch to an alternative rock format more popular with students. The Prairie Star also hopes to broadcast some UIS athletic events in the future in an effort to give students more opportunities.

“I think it’s going to continue to grow and not to toot our own horn (we) sound very professional,” said Kyle Alewelt, a junior communication major.

In most cases students who want to get involved with the station are required to take COM 313 “Introduction to Radio”, which is being offered for the first time this semester. Grubbs says he’s also open to letting students with prior college or professional radio experience get involved.

“As a Communication faculty member I see this as a learning facility. We have a lot of fun in the learning, but it is a learning facility,” said Grubbs.

The Introduction to Radio class teaches the basics of audio production and being on the air. It’s that experience students can take with them after graduation to use in the real world.

“It’s going to look good on the resume, especially here at UIS. It’s a great university and having that experience in the past also at my other radio stations and this one will just enhance my future in the radio business,” said Michael Watson, a junior history major enrolled in the class.

The station has a loyal group of listeners and because it’s an Internet radio station they can track how many people are listening and from where.

“We have had listeners from all around the world in over 50 different countries at this point. We seem to be a big in Europe late hours their time,” said Grubbs.

You can listen to the station online by visiting www.uis.edu/campusradio. For more information email campusradio@uis.edu.

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