As part of an agreement between the university and St. John's, WUSO now broadcasts Sunday services for the church weekly at 10:30 a.m. The agreement with WDPR, a classical music station, allows WUSO to simulcast the show "Morning Concert" every weekday morning from 6-10 a.m.
Hosted by Springfield resident and Springfield Symphony Orchestra patron Larry Coressel, "Morning Concert" adds to the musical repertoire of the station, while the morning show format also provides local news and weather updates that WUSO has never previously offered. Jim Lagos, Wittenberg class of 1970, made the simulcast possible through a generous donation that allowed for the purchase of hardware to link the two stations.
The partnership with St. John's also came out of an alumni connection. Bruce Stoner, class of 1977 and the public relations director for St. John's, drew upon his fond memories of WUSO as a disc jockey during his student days in coming up with the idea for the partnership to replace a previous agreement with WULM 1600-AM.
After consulting with The Rev. John Pollock, St. John's Lutheran Church's pastor, Stoner approached Wittenberg Assistant Dean for Student Activities Mark DeVilbiss, who in turn sought approval from WUSO's executive board, a group of students that enthusiastically supported the project.
"I like the fact that Wittenberg keeps us local, and the Lutheran bond really makes sense for us," Pollock said.
DeVilbiss emphasized a trio of factors that made the broadcasting partnerships so appealing.
"Drawing a connection between WUSO and the surrounding community played a strong part, in addition to joining Wittenberg with a fellow Lutheran institution," he said. "Also, this project helps provide additional exposure for the radio station in the Springfield community."
The partnership with St. John's provides the church with a way to reach out to those who are unable to make it to church on Sundays, including many individuals housed at nearby nursing and assisted living facilities. Pollock regularly visits parishioners in these facilities, and he said the radio service provides a great supplement.
A Springfield native, Pollock hopes this is just the beginning of a strengthening bond between Wittenberg and St. John's. "The more we can do between the two, the better it is for both," he said.
While Stoner, DeVilbiss and Pollock saw the connection as a possibility, it was WUSO Adviser Scott Leo who made it a reality. Along with addressing the technological elements to facilitate the weekly broadcasts, Leo arranged for student-workers to produce the broadcasts.
"We knew that this was a great opportunity to bridge the gap between Wittenberg and the community," Leo said.
As a result of previous partnerships between St. John's and other local radio stations, Leo said that from a technological standpoint, the transition to WUSO was nearly seamless.
"With the help of WUSO engineer Gene Simmons, we have been able to upgrade our own broadcasting capabilities with equipment and software upgrades, and in turn, make these projects successful," he said.
The partnerships with St. John's and WDPR add to WUSO's offerings outside of its traditional eclectic music format, provided by student disc jockeys. WUSO already serves as the home of the continually growing Tiger Sports Network, Wittenberg's athletics broadcasting service. During the 2008-09 school year, as many as 150 athletic events will be carried live on the station.
"Between all the recent additions to WUSO's programming, the station continues to expand on the number and variety of its listening base," assessed Leo.
Along with pairing with WDPR on the simulcasts, Wittenberg also looks to build on opportunities for student involvement, including internships through the Dayton-based station.
"The partnership has opened the door to get students additional avenues to get involved with different facets of broadcasting," Leo added.
WUSO, which celebrated its 44th anniversary in February, has a 120-watt transmitter that allows for a listening radius of about 15 miles, covering all of Springfield and much of Clark County. In addition, all on-air content is streamed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at http://www.wuso.org.
Written By: Ben Bradley
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