WLBN Radio is No More, But Communication Classes May Use Its Equipment

Albion's radio station, located on the Kellogg Center's second floor, has been closed from use since 2016. There are no plans to create WLBN radio again, but the communications department hopes to implement its equipment into classes. (Photo by Ian Moran.)

For the past four years, Albion has been unable to maintain a fully functional radio station. Prior, it was able to.

Every day, students walk past the empty radio station on the second floor of the Kellogg Center. Many question why it is not being used.

The broadcast studio sitting at the top of the steps next to the Eat Shop contains a large assortment of equipment that has not been touched or moved in years. Although the radio station aired previously under the call letters WLBN, the station seems to many as a thing of the past.

Jake Burris, senior from Chelsea, Michigan, said, “I’ve seen the radio station sit empty and unused my whole college career even though many students have tried to bring it back.”

Earlier this year, the Pleiad asked Campus Programs and Organizations about the radio station it was formerly in charge of. The reply came over email.

“This [the radio station] is just not a viable option and it would not work,” wrote Tracey Howard, assistant dean of program development.

Communications professors Katey Price and Megan Hill, both of whom have previous experience in the radio world, provided a more detailed response.

Price worked at Lake Superior State University’s radio station as a student. Hill’s good friend and mentor oversees a radio station at Oakland University.

Both professors said they understood the logistics of operating and building a radio station. They helped explain some of the financial and logistical issues Albion faces if it wanted to start a radio station.

The simple answer to the radio station’s future is that Albion cannot afford it. The royalty cost for songs and surveying the land for an antenna placement would cost nearly $30,000 to just start up the station again.

Starting a radio station would also require a new full-time position to cover and oversee the operations. After adding in the expenses for a new full-time position, the total cost per year is much closer to six figures — even less cost-efficient, they said.

Price believes the radio station would be a major expense for the college, but “would help build a strong connection with the college and the city by promoting events for both,” she said.

The divide between the campus and community has been an issue in Albion for years, and many people see a radio station as a tool to help bridge that gap. Some also see a radio station as a great resume-builder and production experience for students.

“Unfortunately the process and timeline for the radio station to come back would be long and out of the budget for the campus,” Price said.

Despite this, there will be an opportunity for students to use the equipment for their own personal use to create podcasts and different recordings.

The communication department plans on moving the current equipment in the studio to a basement room in Olin Hall this fall. The goal is to potentially incorporate the equipment in different classes and projects through the communication department. This will allow students to get some experience with unique equipment that they may not have access to otherwise.

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