“Wait, Marist has a radio station?”
That is the question that various Marist students said when asked about WMAR, Marist College’s student-run radio station.
Despite being recognized as an official club at Marist, WMAR still struggles to gain a significant following due to a lack of promotion and marketing at the school.
“It’s hard to gain viewership for WMAR when people do not know about it,” said Rob Duffy, the current president of WMAR. “To me, radio seems to be a dying art. There are many more platforms with a lot more content today that can hold people’s attention. Radio is just not as popular as it was in the past.”
The lack of promotion
Although there are no official numbers about the listenership of WMAR, the overall consensus tends to believe that WMAR does not have an abundance of listeners. One of the reasons behind this generalization is the lack of promotion for WMAR.
WMAR has an official Twitter and Facebook page as well as a website to stream the station. Other than that, it is hard to find a presence of the club on campus. There are little to no signs about WMAR or the shows that are broadcasted on the station around the Marist campus.
One way WMAR tries to promote its programming is through Twitter. Here is an example of a show.
Marist freshman Chris Hupper believes that WMAR’s lack of popularity plays a part in the low notoriety on campus.
“I feel that Marist does not even publicize WMAR. I had to beg people from my town in order for them to listen to my show,” said Hupper. “When kids tell me they didn’t know Marist has a radio station, it upsets me. I wish WMAR had a bigger presence on campus so more people would tune in to everyone’s shows.
The disappearance of radio as a concentration
The Communication’s Department at Marist has over five departments with multiple concentrations in each section. In past years, there was a combined concentration of radio, television, and film that incorporated different strategies and aspects from each field. However, the radio/TV/film was removed from Marist’s curriculum in order to start the new Media Arts Department.
Although the Media Arts Department has provided more opportunities for students interested in that field, there are now no more classes designed specifically around the radio. Many students feel developing skills for the radio is not as important to Marist now than it was previously.
“I tend to feel that radio is not apart of the communications department anymore,” said Duffy.” There is no radio/TV/film major anymore as well as no radio classes. We’re [Marist] is not a big radio school.”
To stream or not to stream
Currently, the only way to listen to WMAR is to stream the station online. That means the only way to receive WMAR’s programming is to listen to the station on the Internet.
Lee Walis, Manager of Technical Services at Marist College, believes an online station can be both beneficial and detrimental to WMAR’s success.
“The fact of that the matter is that by broadcasting WMAR from a web stream, it is going to have its advantages and disadvantages,” said Walis, who also serves as the faculty advisor for WMAR. “On campus, the station is easy to stream because WIFI is available. However, it’s hard to figure out what is playing at each time when the schedule is not provided.”
Although a web stream has the potential to target a bigger audience, the lack of a radio dial disallows Marist to reach a traditional audience. In other words, WMAR cannot be listened to on a radio that does not have Internet.
According to Best College Reviews, the radio station at Ithaca College, 91.7 FM, reaches a traditional audience of 250,000 people as well as a much larger audience online. A radio dial has the ability to make a radio station more official and professional so it is only beneficial to the station.
“There is a lack of identity with the radio station and nobody knows where to even listen to it,” said Marist senior Pete Kersich. “It would be awesome if people could turn on their radio in the car and tune into WMAR.”
Room for improvement
Despite these problems, many students and club members believe that WMAR can improve the overall quality and popularity of the station.
One of the ways to publicize WMAR is to increase promotions for the station. WMAR is currently trying to find ways to stand out on campus. Physical signs on campus and an increase in social media are what Duffy stressed are high on the club’s priority list.
“We need to increase promotions and our social media in order to publicize the club,” said Duffy. “At our last meeting, we took photos of the cast of each show so they can use them to create a Facebook or Twitter page. If we start to publicize the shows more often, people might tune in and listen more.”
For Walis, the way to gain a bigger listenership is to record the shows and post them later on so viewers can listen to them at any time.
“Shows should be on demand. That would be the best way to gain listeners,” said Walis. “Storage is so cheap nowadays that it’s definitely possible to post shows online. I bet on demand listening would be greater than on air listeners.
To stream WMAR, visit icecast.marist.edu.