WGSU takes new direction, increases professionalism

This fall brings not only colder weather, but also a shift in atmosphere at the on-campus radio station, WGSU. Faculty Director of WGSU and lecturer of communication Michael Saffran said he is working to the make the station more “current-based.” In doing so, he has enacted myriad changes to collectively enhance the station’s professionalism and quality.

These changes include updated formatics (on-air imaging and scheduling), a new signature voice announcing WGSU as the voice of the valley, new studio request line number, new prerecorded on-air greetings, new weekend public affairs programming and a new logo.

Prior to the start of the semester, Saffran sent this list to the entire radio staff, explaining the reasoning behind the changes and the direction in which the station would be headed this year.

Senior Matt Keller, Sports director at WGSU, said that these “big changes” are moving the station toward a real-world model.

“What’s changing is that we’re not a club, and we’ve never been a club,” Keller said. “We’re trying to become part of the communication department again. It sucks that it’s going to mean less fun, objectively, but this is supposed to help people learn and serve the public interest.”

“Thirty years ago when I was a student here in the 1980s, if we did nothing other than play music and play DJ and have fun and run it as a club that would have been okay because most of us graduated from here into broadcasting jobs,” Saffran said. “Today with those jobs basically nonexistent, that mission no longer exists because there are no jobs for DJs, or very few.”

It is this reality that prompted Saffran, currently in his third year directing WGSU, to create a more professional environment that also fills the missions of the radio station—to fill the Federal Communications Commission requirements, SUNY requirements and listener expectations.

Not everything has changed, though. One of the biggest consistencies is in regards to the alternative/indie music the station is known for playing.

“Radio is actually not very good at matching listeners’ tastes and older music,” Saffran said, explaining that people don’t listen to the radio to hear their favorite songs because they have already downloaded them.

“It’s very good at exposure to new music, especially within a format where [the audience] has certain expectations of what they hear on the radio, so they know they like this music in general, but its new music they haven’t heard before that they might really, really like,” he said.

Junior Jia Sha, News and Public Affairs director for WGSU, said she is excited about the new direction the station is headed in this year.

“I think it created a more professional and educational environment and the execution of the radio is much more well done,” Sha said. “It’s reflective of a professional radio station and I think its great training and experience for all of us.”

Sha added that not everyone at the station is as excited about the changes.

“I think with a change and new culture there’s always people who oppose it or don’t go along with it, and that’s normal so there’s a season of weeding out,” she said. Even after losing a few senior members of the staff, Saffran is excited about the future of the station.

“We want people to know this is Geneseo and it’s a great place,” Saffran said. “We’re embracing Geneseo like never before, which I think is exciting. I think it’s one of the most exciting times in the station’s history in the sense that things are really happening.”