Monday, May 07, 2007

Education, Ideas, and Outreach

I write to add my voice to the growing chorus of community members who feel strongly that the relationship between Miami University and WMUB should be continued, and even strengthened, in the years to come.

My initial encounter with WMUB came just a few days into my first year as a Miami student, when I wandered into the station in search of part-time employment. Over the course of my four years at Miami, my work with the station continued, and I can unequivocally say that my time there was the single greatest educational and personal experience of my Miami career. I learned the ropes of broadcasting, of course, but I also garnered an array of broader professional skills that I continue to draw on to this day. Though WMUB's role as an educational experience for students has been reduced significantly since I was there, it does continue to provide substantial resources for today's students.

WMUB also helped me, and countless listeners, to realize the power of ideas. The national and local programming carried on WMUB is an incredible resource for understanding our world -- something especially vital for the region in the 21st century. Though some listeners can also access that programming through other NPR member stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Springfield, it is clear that Miami should endorse -- and co-brand -- the spirit of investigation and education infused in the shows produced by NPR and WMUB.

The station also serves as the primary point of interaction with Miami for many in southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana. In my time as a WMUB reporter and producer, I encountered numerous individuals who had never set foot on Miami's campus, but knew and respected WMUB -- and by extension, they knew and respected Miami as a place that valued education and valued its neighbors and listeners. And for those who would call in to the locally-produced programming like Mama Jazz, WMUB Forum, and Interconnect, that sense of affinity for Miami was deepened even further.

The committee, I imagine, is considering numerous possibilities for the future of WMUB, and the most devastating and misguided one of all would be to sever ties with the station entirely. Instead, I urge the University to look beyond the financial and administrative struggles that have necessitated this exploratory committee, and to find new ways to enhance the resources of the station, to recapture its former role as a haven for students dedicated to broadcasting, to leverage the airwaves to spread knowledge, and to fully realize the tremendous public relations power of such a remarkable and distinctive place. WMUB is more than a radio station, WMUB *is* Miami to thousands of people -- neighbors, alumni, staff, students -- and its potential is far greater than any other means of outreach.

--Steven McFarland, BA '01, BS '01, Cambridge, Massachusetts


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