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Station lacks student audience

Brian McKenzie | Monday, February 11, 2008

WSND 88.9, Notre Dame’s classical radio station, targets students in its programming, but the students aren’t tuning in.

“It’s a constant struggle to get students aware,” station manager Stephanie Yoshida said. “To have something like this here and to have students not know about it really astounds me.”

WSND 88.9 focuses on classical music and also airs jazz, Celtic and Broadway music as well as news and a Harley-Davidson-sponsored astronomy program, said Ed Jaroszewski, a radio technician that’s worked for the station for 35 years.

Recently the station has also begun playing college rock and indie after midnight “to appeal to as broad an audience as possible,” Yoshida said.

Yoshida said that while much of the current audience is made up of people in the South Bend community, the station has begun offering promotional products, such as concert tickets to performances by the Notre Dame Symphony, in order to target the Notre Dame student population.

“Most of the callers to my show are members of the broader South Bend community rather than Notre Dame students,” she said. “Our advertisements mostly target students, though, because they’re easier to reach and may not have lived in the area long enough to know which radio stations are available.”

However, according to Yoshida, one of the major obstacles the station faces is the sheer lack of radios on campus. Moreover, the station is not allowed to broadcast online.

“I wish that we could broadcast online, but because of FCC regulations, we can’t,” Yoshida said.

Jaroszewski said the station has also been affected by educational budget cuts to musical programs.

“The arts have taken a beating and I’ve noticed that, having worked at the local symphony, that younger people aren’t attending the concerts,” he said.  

Yoshida said one selling point of the station was its accessibility, allowing students to request nearly half of the songs played during the weekend on-air hours. 

“It is unusual for classical stations to have a request hour. For the few that do, it’s usually confined to a few hours,” she said. “We’d like to think of ourselves as very democratic.”

When asked, several students said they really had no knowledge of WSND, something the group hopes to counter with its advertising.

Nicholas Dan, a sophomore, said he listens only to online stations because he doesn’t have a radio.

“Besides, I’m not really sure what WSND plays,” he said. 

“I’ve heard of the station, but I can’t remember listening to it,” said John Fahy, a Stanford assistant rector and graduate student in theology. “I wouldn’t say that I’m uninterested in classical music, but I just don’t listen to much radio. I’m not very familiar with its programming, either.”

Nonetheless, Yoshida, who is also a classically-trained violinist, said she hopes students will be enticed by the station’s marketing and begin listening to WSND 88.9 in order to develop a greater appreciation of classical music.

“For me, classical music has really tapped into my imagination. It lets me experience something utterly indescribable, something wonderful and opens a window into a world of sheer beauty and possibilities,” Yoshida said. “If we’re able to introduce this to just one more person, then I think we’ll have made progress.”