WUIS/Illinois Pubic Radio has launched a new “alternative” digital radio station as part of a nearly $300,000 upgrade effort.
The new station called “Xponential Radio” signed onto the airwaves in mid-October and can be received by using an HD radio or listening online at www.wuis.org. The station is available on the second channel (HD-2) of the primary WUIS 91.9 FM digital signal.
“The advantage is we can offer more services to the region. We’ll be offering 3 radio stations eventually,” said Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS Public Radio General Manager.
Wheelhouse describes the “Xponential Radio” format as alternative music designed for public radio. The station’s playlist features music from artists like David Bowie, Lyle Lovett, and Elvis Costello. The primary WUIS (HD-1) channel will continue to carry NPR programming, classical music, and local news.
“With this second channel we also hope to serve UIS students more. Down the road we hope we could offer some UIS athletics on the HD-2 channel,” said Wheelhouse.
WUIS is the first radio station in Springfield to launch a secondary station designed for digital radio, but Wheelhouse feels it will catch on. He says dozens of new digital radio stations are already being started in larger markets like St. Louis and Chicago.
“We hope to see a lot of radio stations doing it to make it worth your while to buy a digital radio,” said Wheelhouse.
As part of the digital upgrade WUIS is replacing all of its studio equipment with state-of-the-art technology to improve audio quality. Wheelhouse says listeners are already noticing the difference when they tune in. The station is also putting the finishing touches on the Suggs Performance Studio, where it hopes to broadcast live music and political forums.
A federal grant paid for $137,000 in new equipment for the station. The rest of the money for the upgrades has come from listener donations and a loan taken out by the station.