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WRFW joins college radio network

November 2, 2006

This semester, UWRF and seven other Wisconsin universities joined a statewide college radio news network that offers a valuable resource to students and other Wisconsin broadcasters.

UWRF’s radio station, Pure Radio 88.7 WRFW-FM, joined this semester.

The Wisconsin Broadcaster Association (WBA) College Radio News Network is designed to share productions and news feed through a Web site. Some of the productions include student radio reports and public service announcements that have mass appeal, which are uploaded as MP3 audio files.

Six months ago, UW-Milwaukee lecturer Maryann Lazarski proposed the network idea.

“Student-run news operations are not unlike professional newsrooms,” Lazarski said. “Student journalists, broadcasters and managers are always looking for more resources, without having the money to spend on them.”

Although the service is free to students, someone had to pay for it. The WBA provided financial support to get the product off the ground and offered assistance from its Web designer in order to develop the site.

WRFW News Advisor Sandy Ellis said she appreciates the WBA financial support.

“It wouldn’t be possible without them,” she said.

In addition, Ellis said it was necessary that the network be funded for its educational purposes. The network became available to the eight universities this semester.

The WBA College Radio News Network teamed up with the Wisconsin Radio Network (WRN), which has 50 commercial radio affiliates. As a result, WRN stations have access to student-produced stories and sound bytes to use on the air.

“The students get the experience of producing news stories that will not only air in the River Falls area, but potentially could be heard all over Wisconsin,” Ellis said.

Before the network, WRFW had to rely solely on its reporters. In addition to more stories, the new membership has brought about many benefits.

“My guys are excited, not just to air, but to be picked up by other schools in their newscasts,” Ellis said. “We get to provide information to other students and get information from other schools.”

WRFW Producer Melissa Latourelle agrees.

“This experience will not only allow us at UWRF to have a better newscast, but it will also get our own stories and voices to a wider audience,” Latourelle said. “That is the kind of exposure and experience that can make a difference after graduation.”

News director Tara Sowle also finds the membership beneficial.

“We get more stories and a wider perspective on things happening around the state,” she said. “Every school involved puts up stories that can be relevant to things happening in our area too, so it’s like having more reporters stretched across the state.”

Sowle also said one WRFW story in particular caught the eye of other students.

“The story about Governor Doyle’s visit received great reviews,” Sowle said.

To listen, students can log on to www.uwrf.edu/wrfw/listen.htm.

According to the official press release of the network, a half-hour program is under construction. This program will feature the “best of” stories from the network schools in addition to talk and feature segments.

The production will rotate between member schools each semester. It is currently housed at UW-Madison.

In addition to UWRF, the other schools participating in the network are UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Whitewater, UW-Eau Claire, Marquette University in Milwaukee and Lawrence University in Appleton.

A feature on the network will also be published in the October/November issue of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine.