WESU and You

What is WESU, you ask? If you really had to ask that question, you’re doing the whole Wesleyan experience wrong and it’s time to reevaluate your four years here. At 6,000 watts WESU can reach a potential audience of one million listeners over the radio, and the whole world through online streaming (apparently we have a lot of listeners in Japan…).

Speaking as a completely non-biased non-board member of WESU, I can honestly say that being a part of the radio station is one of the most valuable and rewarding activities that one can participate in while at Wesleyan. WESU is not your average radio station. It has certainly established itself as “home of eclectic music and enemy of the Top 40.” During board meetings we even keep track of a meter that goes from “corporate” to “renegade” just to make sure we never stray from our values.

WESU’s “freeform” format gives staff members the complete freedom to format their shows however they please. As a result you’ll find a wide array of programming that you won’t find anywhere else. Some examples include “Romancipation” with Dr. Love and DJ Smooth (“tips on dating, love, and all of the above – and some songs to go with them”), “Homegrown” with Rob DeRosa (“Homegrown presents Connecticut-connected music to the global audience. Gig info and occasional performances and interviews!”) and “The Tirnup and Other Roots” with DJ Zing and DJ Ping (“Carrots, songs, beets, poems, beats, stories and yams”). However, you’ll also find shows streamed from NPR, Pacifica and the Democracy Now! networks.

 is located on the third floor of Broad Street Books, around the corner from the Argus’s office – but it wasn’t always there.  It’s no surprise that WESU has some mischievous beginnings. The radio station first hit the airwaves in 1939 thanks to two young men living in Clark Hall who attached a record player to a small transmitter and used the campus water pipes in the tunnels as an antenna. At first they were only able to broadcast to Clark, but by 1941 the station was officially acknowledged by Wesleyan. Today, WESU remains as one of the country’s oldest college radio stations.

It has certainly come a long way from Clark Hall. Just last year WESU was crowned “The Best College Radio Station” from the Hartford Advocate’s Annual Readers’ Poll, and has been  nominated again this year (VOTE BY FEB 9th!). We don’t like to brag, but this is kind of a big deal. Almost as big of a deal as being featured on MtvU in this awesome video.

The station’s success is a result of the support of a volunteer staff of over 150 students and community members, two part time paid staffers, and most importantly, Ben Michael who is the full-time general manager. WESU brings together many different aspects of Wesleyan’s greater community, which certainly makes involvement with the station unique to almost any other activity on campus.

Not only does WESU open its doors to the community members of Middletown, but it also has a special program for kids called the Middletown Youth Radio Project (MYRP). MYRP puts children from ages 9 to 16 onto the airwaves while helping them learn the skills, teamwork, and confidence to be legitimate broadcasters, and most importantly, real DJs. They work together with Wesleyan students  to produce a show that airs every Friday from 6:30pm to 7:00pm.

If you’re in the greater Middletown area then you can tune in to WESU on 88.1FM, assuming of course that you’re in a car… that’s the only place that radios still exist, right? If not, you can also tune in at wesufm.org by clicking the large red arrow on the right side of the page that says LISTEN LIVE. It is also streamed on some internet radio stations like TuneIn. WESU has programing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; you can also find a schedule here along with every show’s playlist as well as archives of a show you may have missed. WESU also just launched a new Twitter page (in addition to this Twitter page) that provides a live update of each show at the time it comes on air.

Now that WESU is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary, there will be many special on-air features and events happening in Middletown and on Wesleyan’s campus. Each week there will be a “75 years of…” radio series. This month’s theme is “75 years of socially conscious music”.

WESU doesn’t receive any federal funding, so each semester the station hosts a pledge drive gaining support from listeners and in return providing them with some awesome WESU swag. As a result, one-third of the budget is funded by the support of WESU listeners. By the end of December, the station was able to meet its target goal. It plans to exceed it this semester in order to fund a station upgrade in light of its 75th year. Certainly be on the look out for the annual record fair, concerts, and other ways to get involved with the station this coming semester.

Each semester at the Student Activities Fair, WESU invites aspiring DJs to participate in 5 training sessions over the course of the semester in order to be eligible for their own show. During the training session each participant is given a training manual, which they are tested on after shadowing 4 current shows and completing 4 hours of community service at the station. Finally, training culminates with a final practical exam to validate their knowledge of using the studio equipment.

LISTEN TO WESU. Look out for information regarding next semester’s training and 75th anniversary related events. If you like what you hear, support your fellow Weskids and Middletown residents by clicking here.

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