HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — WJOU(FM)/90.1 is a praise and inspiration station, licensed to Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. We also do public affairs programming. Even though we’ve been on the air for 36 years, we haven’t been able to do remote call-ins or remotes for years because a lightning strike destroyed our equipment, and the station couldn’t afford to repair it.
Kenny Anderson, right, host of WJOU’s public affairs program “2nd Chance,” interviews Huntsville, Ala., Mayor Tommy Battle at the station’s annual community health fair.
So for a long time, if we wanted to do a call-in, we had to do it the old-fashioned way and hold a microphone next to the telephone speaker in the studio … bring back any memories? Our situation was pretty dire.
When I joined the station, one of my first goals was reestablishing a connection with the community.
Since music and programming delivery environments are always in a constant flux, I feel radio’s ability to interact directly with the community we serve sets us apart. Purchasing STAC VIP, a voice over IP call management system by Comrex, was a major priority to me because I felt that it was crucial to achieving our community engagement goal through live call-ins and live remote.
Fortunately, two months after arriving at the station, we were awarded a $5,000 support grant from the Nathan L. Anderson Memorial Foundation. When the foundation asked about a pressing need, the answer was obvious: remote equipment. And the solution was just as obvious: a Comrex STAC VIP. So we used the grant funds to purchase the equipment.
On the equipment side, we’re a 25,000-watt station about a quarter of a mile from our transmitter. Most of our equipment is a little dated to say the least; our transmitter is close to 30 years old. However, we are in the process of updating and refurbishing some of it. The STAC VIP is probably our newest equipment purchase.
About a month after we purchased the unit, we conducted our first “live” remote broadcast from a local senior health fair event in Huntsville, and about 350 people attended. The following month, we did our first-ever live town hall remote using up to six microphones, mixers along with the LinPhone app and Wi-Fi to connect to our STAC VIP. Both the mayor of Huntsville and the president of the university attended the event; and this was just the second time we used the unit. During the broadcast, I sat in the car for a while to just listen, and the quality was just great. We later heard from listeners who thought the remote was an in-studio broadcast.
We continue to use STAC VIP to cover a variety of events as part of our community engagement mission. To date, we have broadcast more than 15 call-ins, interviews and program from local community events. Being able to conduct remotes from university events has also helped to forge an even stronger relationship with our licensee. Although this may not seem a lot for just a year and a half from some stations, we only have two full-time staffers.
Even with our staffing restraints, the affordability, connectivity and easy use of the STAC VIP have enabled us to build a stronger connection with the community we serve. It is that community connection which as radio broadcasters sets us apart from other program delivery options.
For information, contact Chris Crump at Comrex in Massachusetts at (978) 784-1776 or visit www.comrex.com.