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Matthew Nieves-Hoblin ‘23, general manager of Ursinus’s student-run radio station, remembers hosting his final show before the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone home in March 2020. “I was the last person in the studio. But I just said, ‘Alright goodbye guys, I’ll see you in the spring,’ and of course, as we all know, we didn’t come back after that. But now, WVOU is back and better than ever after a year and a half,” Nieves-Hoblin explained, his voice teeming with enthusiasm.
WVOU is Ursinus’s student-run radio station, and it’s making its return after almost two years of being off the air. Now, the station is offering a variety of music and podcast-style shows hosted by DJs across campus.
WVOU stands for “Voice of Ursinus,” and the W, a special denotation for east-coast broadcasts, holds true to its origins as an airwave station. Now, the station broadcasts online, and the link to listen can be found on WVOU’s homepage, located on the Ursinus website.
Nieves-Hoblin sees WVOU as an integral part of free speech at Ursinus. He said, “Because the station is completely uncensored and entirely student-run, it’s quite literally the ‘Voice of Ursinus.’ It’s not the voice of the faculty, but the voice of the students themselves.” He added, “Through WVOU, students can talk about anything they desire, and that really encourages what our community holds dear. WVOU is really important, and without it, there’d be a real loss to student expression on campus.”
WVOU is an important organization promoting free speech at Ursinus, but it also gives students an opportunity to become closer with their own voices. Kalina Witkowska ‘23, the station’s music director, explained, “WVOU is so important because you have the opportunity to talk about what matters to you. Even if you have no listeners, there’s a comfort in speaking into this platform because it’s not just talking alone in your room. It’s talking on-air. It’s very empowering.”
As for the future of WVOU, Witkowska said, “I’m hoping for more listeners, and it’s hard, but I’m hoping we can get more listeners by being more involved on campus.” WVOU is already involving itself with different organizations on campus like The Grizzly. Beginning soon, a “Grizzly Radio Hour” will air weekly to provide students with another medium to receive campus news. Also, a WVOU side-column will be printed in The Grizzly to keep students updated on the latest music trends on campus.
Although listenership has been a struggle in the past, Nieves-Hoblin has big hopes for the station’s revitalization. “I want everyone on campus to know about WVOU, and I want them to be able to listen to WVOU. I want it to be relevant, and it be a place where even non-students can listen and be engaged because we have quality shows, quality music, and quality content.”
Hosting a radio show may seem daunting, but Witkoswka highlighted the come-one, come-all attitude built into the organization. They added, in a direct address to hopeful DJs, “Always feel free to ask questions and reach out. It’s really no issue to communicate if you have any concerns or you don’t know how to get involved. It’s really easy just to ask a question.”
As for potential listeners, Witkowska offered, “Honestly, just give us a try. It’s fun to listen to students on campus, and it’s a very casual thing. It doesn’t matter what your major is or what part of campus you’re associated with, we really have it all. You can even email us to make music requests, make an announcement for an upcoming event, request types of shows, or even create your own show. Anybody who wants to can put their hand in WVOU.”
Because students have total creative control over the station’s content, the possibilities are quite limitless. With its future bright, WVOU will undoubtedly become a cultural hub for the Ursinus community to express themselves however they see fit. If you want to be a part of the station yourself, email Matt Nieves-Hoblin, WVOU’s general manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com . Or, you can simply listen to the broadcast by clicking the link on the WVOU homepage.