Moving the Northland College radio station to full power
WRNC is Northland College’s community radio station. WRNC broadcasts a mix of news, talk and music programming 24 hours a day in Ashland. Recently, Northland was awarded a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a 6 kW station. The permit allows Northland to increase its current signal strength of 100 watts and broadcast news, entertainment, music and talk programming across the Chequamegon Bay. Several options are being explored as part of this effort, including:
• Programming and/or technical partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio
• Increased local coverage of community news, talk and music
• Training for students and volunteers in radio news, programming and more
WRNC programs and news have been carried on Wisconsin Public Radio stations and further partnerships with area broadcast media are currently being explored. WRNC has until August 2014 to act on the construction permit it has received from the FCC.
In the works:
WRNC has been exploring several options for building a full power station on surrounding towers in the Ashland and Washburn area. Since August 2011, the radio station and college have devised a three-phase plan to move WRNC to full power. The plan is currently in phase 2 of this effort, which includes structural studies and identifying capital costs to move WRNC to full power. Initial cost estimates for building a full power station are believed to be somewhere around $100,000. As the radio station moves forward, WRNC and Northland College aim to secure support and funding for the capital project of building a 6 kW station. In addition, staff are currently devising a plan to ensure operation of a full power station can be sustained once it has been built.
Northland College and WRNC have moved to make several changes to programming, internship opportunities and efficiency of operations at WRNC since Summer 2011. Volunteers and students have worked to increase community ties through music and news programming, as well as events. Below are some of the changes and accomplishments WRNC has marked to date.
Enhanced community coverage on topics, including:
Northland College and WRNC were co-sponsors of the March 2013 Penokees Read event held at StageNorth in Washburn, which chronicled poetry, fiction and nonfiction about the Penokee Range. WRNC and WPR also partnered on a day-long broadcast of a mining hearing at the AmericInn in February. Throughout the mining debate, Northland College radio has partnered with WPR on mining coverage through news stories and programming. In addition, Northland College radio station WRNC has offered live coverage of mining hearings taking place in Madison courtesy of Wisconsin Eye. Furthermore, the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has brought in several speakers for panel discussions on mining, which WRNC has broadcast. This includes the panel discussion with Bob Kincaid and Mike Wiggins in December 2012. In addition, WRNC broadcast a mining forum that Northland College organized in January 2012, with speakers Tom Evans, George Meyer and Mike Wiggins. To view a post of links to WRNC mining coverage, click here.
Music, Literature & Arts
WRNC initiated the Studio Sessions series in Winter 2012. These half hour-programs welcomed local musicians who live in the Chequamegon Bay area to be interviewed about the music they create. Artists played their songs live in-studio or demo tracks from their latest EP or album. Musicians shared their thoughts about why music is important to them, as well as what inspires or influences them. WRNC is currently recording musicians for the 2013 Studio Sessions series. In addition, WRNC has invited local, state and national authors into the studio to discuss works of fiction and nonfiction. WRNC has interviewed notable authors, including award-winning writers Peter Annin, John Vaillant and Philip Connors. WRNC has also interviewed local writers Bruce Burnside, Anne Miller and Lee Merrill to name a few. Furthermore, WRNC has been a medium for broadcast of local theatrical productions for the stage and radio, including an audio postcard on the 2013 production of Much Ado About Nothing and Rural Mail Carrier.
Native American culture
WRNC has featured a number of interviews and stories about Native American culture, traditions and issues related to the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. In 2013, WRNC provided live broadcasts of the Northland College Spring Powwow, a presentation by WWII Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez and an interview with Aztec dance group Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc. In 2012, WRNC offered reports on treaty rights and labor struggles, tribal perspectives on mining, Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt, Mother Earth water walkers, the Healing Circle Run/Walk and community garden projects at Red Cliff that received recognition by the White House.
WRNC has also offered programs or covered stories on a number of political figures and public policy matters in the Chequamegon Bay region. The Northland College radio station featured a regular weekly segment in Winter 2012 called Leaders’ News & Views, which interviewed local leaders in the Chequamegon Bay area about issues facing their cities.
Professional broadcasting experience is one of the expanded benefits students may now reap from their participation at WRNC. Northland College students and alums have received on-the-job training to report radio news stories for WRNC, the Superior Bureau of Wisconsin Public Radio, WOJB and National Native News. In addition, student news stories have been featured in the Ashland Daily Press. Furthermore, students are trained to become board operators, disc jockeys, on-air hosts and also assist in programming the station.
Volunteers are a crucial part of station operations and programming. They are often the public face of the station as disc jockeys of music programs and on-air hosts. In the last two years, volunteers have willingly taken on new projects, including reviewing music, assisting with fundraising, providing programming ideas and generating overall community support. Without volunteers, WRNC would not be able to maintain operations.
Throughout all these changes, WRNC has been recognized for its programs and news coverage in the Chequamegon Bay. The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association has recognized the station for its news and programs in both the collegiate and professional categories. WRNC reporters have garnered awards and certificates of excellence from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, as well as first-place awards from both IBS and the WBA. To listen to the award-winning stories and programs, click here.
Mission Moving Forward
As WRNC grows, the station intends to provide regularly scheduled and in-depth news, public affairs and public service programming on local issues including the environment, business, agriculture, weather, health care, underserved communities, state, county, local and tribal governments, education, schools, parenting and cultural affairs. Northland College radio is well on its way to achieving that goal.