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Inside the Heart of WPKM: Jeremy Harrison

By Lexi Carder

“Radio is just a podcast without music,” Jeremy Harrison, station manager, said.

As an instructor, Radio Station Manager and one of the few people who worked to get WPKM started in 2013, Harrison is an expert on the topic.

“I started in software engineering and it is something that will land you either in a cubicle for the rest of your life or it’s hard to make it in that world because everyone is developing apps now,” Harrison said. “I didn’t want to end up stuck at a job in a cubicle for the rest of my life doing code for some boring company, so I ended up getting into journalism here at WVU Parkersburg and I’ve watched the program grow from its infancy while I’ve been here.”

Born and raised in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Harrison has always been someone who loves to be part of the community and teach others. He started out his adult life in retail to build credit to attend college later. He then attended WVU Parkersburg from 2010 to 2013 where he received his degree in Media and Communication Studies.

“I’ve always liked keeping up with the news. I didn’t so much in my teenage years and in my early twenties, but in my mid-20s and on, I really started keeping up with the news and started getting more into politics and finding out what’s going on around me,” Harrison said.

He said his first journalism class was the newspaper writing class. “I took the class on a whim from one of my advisers downstairs—just trying new things because I was trying to get out of software engineering,” Harrison said. “I walked into room 2205 and I’ve been up here ever since.”

He now works here and runs the radio station, WPKM 96.3 The Beet.

Outside of work, Harrison spends his time at home learning new things about audio and the technology that comes with it. He also enjoys coding and tries to develop mobile apps.

“One thing I used to do to keep my mind off work was to play music a lot, and then that started turning into a job. And so, I had to stop because my creativity just stopped at some point with that. But with the recording studio being built, it’ll be a job again, so we’ll see how that turns out, which is great. I’m very excited about that,” Harrison said.

Harrison was involved in the radio station project as a student when preliminary work began in 2013. He helped with the construction, the equipment for the engineers and worked with lawyers, like Tom Taggart, for the Federal Communications Commission licensing.

“It was my baby for a while. It was basically me, Tom, Torie Jackson and a guy named Jason Bennett from the FM expansion group, he also helped us out and then of course the maintenance guys, they helped build it all with their bare hands,” Harrison said.

It is now a student-run station that focuses on providing the community with entertaining and educational radio. The Beet is a free-form eclectic format, meaning anything can be recorded and played. It offers a wide array of music, news and talk radio.

It is a non-commercial, low power FM, meaning it operates at 100 watts and advertisers cannot pay for their products to be promoted. “There’s no humanity in commercial radio. It’s all algorithms,” Harrison said.

Harrison attributes everything he does to the students that attend his classes at WVU Parkersburg.

“I like being able to bestow knowledge onto people and help them. I like to see people succeed and the students inspire me and give me hope for the future,” Harrison said.

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