Students practice broadcast skills with Rutgers Radio
For 68 years, WRSU-FM Rutgers Radio has served as the official radio station of Rutgers University by providing a variety of programming, ranging from sports coverage to international music.
One of the oldest college radio stations in the country, WRSU plays a wide range of songs not normally found in the weekly Top 40, and has provided talk radio to Rutgers students for decades, according to the station's website.
“We kind of go by the motto, 'by the students, for the students.' We want to get students to have real-world experience, and I always tell students coming in that this is where you make your mistakes. I like to say this is like a pre-internship before you get the internship," said Maria DiPietro, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and WRSU's general manager.
DiPietro became involved with the news and sports departments of the radio station in her first year at Rutgers after finding out about the station at an involvement fair. She said that when she applies for internships, her interviewers are impressed by her tenure at WRSU.
In its early life, WRSU only broadcasted on an AM frequency, but that changed when the school expanded, and only students on the College Avenue and Douglass campuses could listen in, according to the WRSU website. The station made its first FM broadcast on Jan. 27, 1974, and broadcasted in both formats until 1976. Today, WRSU can be heard as far as 20 miles outside of the New Brunswick area.
The station's first studio was at 12 College Ave., which is now the Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life. Since then, it has moved to its current location atop College Avenue Student Center.
The station broadcasts local bands and artists, as well as normally unheard music, DiPietro said. Music DJs at the station are required to have at least 50 percent of their programming come from the College Music Journal (CMJ), with the remainder able to come from any source.
Over the weekends, the station plays world music from countries like Turkey and Ireland.
Any student can host a show at the station, DiPietro said. There are no experience requirements — the station trains its members — and those who participate can choose which department they want to work in. By the end of their time with the station, members have their own tape they can present to potential employers.
The large community present at Rutgers also helps differentiate it from similar programs hosted at other institutions. Members can practice becoming a music DJ in the supportive environment that exists, DiPietro said. Many of her friends are fellow members.
Priya Ashish, a Rutgers Business School junior, is program director, one of the co-directors of entertainment department and co-hosts the "RU Entertained" show.
"RU Entertained" is an entertainment news show where hosts discuss news, celebrities, music, movies, TV shows and more. Ashish said there used to only be a news show which talked about politics and other hard news.
“I was lucky to have a radio station in my high school," she said. "I was fortunate enough to write stories, learn how to make news packages and I really like the aspect of interviewing people and telling a story.”
Claudia Martinez, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, is also part of the same show. The show started two years ago, and was one of the first student hosts on the show.
“I also was very lucky to have a high school radio station," she said. "I came here knowing I wanted to be a communications major, and I was very interested because I had done it in high school already. I knew I needed to join a radio station.”
Ashish said the experience is fulfilling for her because she gets to work with the equipment and learn useful skills. She also teaches new people joining the radio station, and hopes that those skills can be passed on when she eventually graduates.
“It’s a really good experience working with the board," Martinez said. "Working with other people on the show, it’s all about teamwork. (You) kind of get to know one another, so you know what types of things to say to make it more interesting for the audience who’s listening.”
She hopes to have her own show in the future and have a greater role within the program, but she is unsure whether this is what she wants to do because it’s only her first year in college.
WRSU is on 88.7 FM at all hours of the day. Students interested in joining can email Genevieve Cullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or can visit the station at the fourth floor of the College Avenue Student Center.
Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @c_bo_sauce.