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Campus radio station finds home online

Nicole Zook | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Buried in the midst of the notoriously bad South Bend radio scene is a gem waiting to be discovered. WVFI, Notre Dame’s student-run radio station, is only available to listeners online.WVFI’s assistant station manager Mairead Case said that despite the view of some that exclusively online availability is a deficiency, the station has “a large number of people listening.””I feel like we have a tight core group and some random people that are relatives or alums or whatever listening, but on the whole I have been surprised when people don’t know who we are or don’t know how to listen,” she said.Many WVFI workers think that it is better for the station, which is located in the LaFortune Student Center, to only be available online.”We’ve been really happy to have an Internet radio station … because while most people don’t listen in their cars, Notre Dame is a campus where most people live on campus and can listen from their computers,” she said.Case also said she thinks the Internet is a good home for WVFI, as it allows the station to be commercial-free and heard around the world.”We used to be 640 AM, and then some students made the move to be on the Internet,” she said. “The idea was that we would be free from FCC regulations and be available to the entire world. Our funding is from SUB and Student Activities, and then a lot of [station business] is Internet-done, so we don’t have to abide by the official rules that govern FM stations.”The format allows WVFI to reach out to the national base of Notre Dame alumni and fans hungry for news of life under the dome.”Our sports broadcasts have done really well,” Case said. “We have really solid coverage, and alums like that it’s student-run so you get a more intimate perspective.” Case and McGeeney both said they want to encourage students to tune in online.Freshman Laura Miller said she has heard of the station, but has never actually listened to any of the shows.”I have not ever [listened],” she said. “I haven’t been motivated to very much. I’ve heard about it … but I don’t know very much about it.”The station, available at http://wvfi.nd.edu, plays a wide variety of independent-label music including hip-hop, folk and indie pop. The station has over 125 disc jockeys (DJs) who are all allowed to choose what music to play during their shows. There is a diverse mix of DJs working at the station – football players, freshmen, ROTC cadets, seniors who have had four years of shows and many other lovers of music.Music co-director Catherine McGeeney, a junior, said the station receives an average of 50 new CDs per week from independent labels and artists – leading to a wide range of available music for DJs to spin.”We get in a wide variety of music,” she said. “We have a variety of shows that include some talk-only shows. Basically, DJs have a choice about what kind of show they are going to have. The vast variety of shows are music, but just like on the radio the DJs will talk to each other or talk about the music.”McGeeney said the station plays many big-name indie bands like Stars, Iron and Wine and The Decemberists. Students can request songs by their favorite artists by calling the station any time from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., or can send the DJ an instant message (IM) while their show is on – an option McGeeney said has become increasingly popular.”We get a lot of IMs, and a lot of people request [songs] by IM,” she said. “We’re in the process of actually putting our entire vault [of albums] on the Internet so that people can look at what they can choose from.”McGeeney said this is one reason the online format is a benefit to WVFI, which was previously an AM radio station.McGeeney, who will serve as next year’s station manager, said the station is great for those who are “interested in finding ways to learn more about independent label music or indie rock” and get to know others with the same interest.”The reason I’m involved is that I love the community of the radio station and the exploration of music,” she said. “It really encourages individuality.”