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Behind The Beet: WPKM Hires Manager

The Mid-Ohio Valley’s newest radio station has a new station manager.

WPKM 96.3 FM – LP began broadcasting last March after a two-year project to bring the first community college radio station in West Virginia to WVU Parkersburg.

WVUP alum Jeremy Harrison was recently hired to oversee the day-to-day operations of WPKM.

“It’s a huge deal,” Harrison said. “I feel once we start taking off we’re going to see more of these LP stations in West Virginia and around everywhere.”

WPKM reaches about 85.000 people in Wood and Washington County with a selection of quality student programming representing nearly every genre in the musical spectrum.  Harrison said since WPKM is not confined to one music genre, the mix of tunes and lack of commercial advertising makes for a refreshing listening experience.

“This is an eclectic freeform station so we play anything from heavy metal to jazz,” Harrison said.  “We are putting something new out there. It’s another way to get students involved in the school, as well.”

Formerly the editor of The Chronicle, Harrison also places strong emphasis on the new radio station’s commitment to educational and informative programming via news and public service offerings.

The radio station is the brainchild of Dr. Torie Jackson, journalism professor, who saw an opportunity to grow a program from surplus bandwidth the government was making available for institutes of higher learning.  LP means the radio station is “low power” – or an educational station operating at a low electrical power and serving a smaller area than commercial radio.  WPKM’s tower broadcasts at 100 watts.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Local Community Radio Act, eliminating unnecessary restrictions in order to promote “diversity and independent media ownership, strong public media and universal access to communications” and making way for more small communities and educational endeavors to have access to the once-expensive bandwidth spectrum.

Low power stations typically serve small communities and are particularly helpful in times of crisis when larger stations may be knocked out of service by power outages.

However, LP stations have no priority over traditional broadcast translators when it comes to the allocation of available bandwidth.  As a result, Harrison said, it is possible that a large commercial interest could someday be vying for the same space on the dial.

“If a commercial station wanted in on our frequency, we would have to give it up,” Harrison explained.

He has been working with Jackson to make the college radio station a reality since 2013.  The station received approval in December 2013 and planning way underway through 2014 leading up to a spring 2015 air date.

“He helped us from the beginning,” Jackson said.

From making the equipment list and actually building the studio to the selection of call letters and a logo, Harrison had a hand in every step of the setup process. Once WPKM was on the air, it fell to him to work out the bugs and keep the new station up and running.

“I don’t know anyone else who has a love for The Beet in the sense that Jeremy does and so there is no one else in my opinion that deserved this job,” Jackson said.

Since going live on the airwaves last spring, the station is also available for online streaming at www.wpkmradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for personal devices.

The battle cry of WPKM is “Lettuce Turnip the Beet!” – a logo derived by students to show the variety of the station. Unlike traditional broadcast radio, WPKM relies upon community support.  Donations and sponsorships are always welcome. For more information, email Jeremy Harrison at wpkm@wvup.edu.

by Callie Lyons

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