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Ohio Wesleyan Turns Back License for College Radio Station WSLN


On May 31, 2012, the license for Ohio Wesleyan’s student radio station WSLN was cancelled after the Delaware, Ohio university turned the 98.7 FM license back to the FCC. Trace Regan, WSLN adviser and Chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Journalism Department told me via email that, “WSLN will continue as ‘OWU Radio’ online.  The webcast should be in operation at the start of fall semester.”

According to an Ohio Wesleyan timeline, WSLN had been in operation since 1951. A program schedule from 1966 lists WSLN at 91.1 FM. At the time, the station broadcast chapel services, sports (including all home and away football and basketball games), music (jazz, classical, and popular music including Johnny Mathis and Count Basie), and talk programs. One of the more intriguing offerings was “Stars for Defense,” which was described as a “musical variety show produced by the Civil Defense Department.” In recent years, WSLN was a class D FM station at 98.7 FM.

Although I was not told the specific reasons that Ohio Wesleyan gave up the license for WSLN, a March, 2012 article in the student publication, The Transcript, outlines the recent challenges being faced by the station. According to the piece, the radio station was off the air starting in the fall of 2011 and was still not broadcasting as of March, 2012 due to a computer crash. According to the article,

“Due to a lack of technical support and student involvement, WSLN 98.7 FM, Ohio Wesleyan’s student radio station has not been able to broadcast and will remain down until technical repairs can be made…In the past, the station had around 30 students directly involved and had active followings on and off campus. The station also had several shows such as ‘Good Morning OWU,’ ‘The Flipside,’ ‘The Vowelsounds,’ ‘Fizz Radio’ and ‘Daywalker at Night,’ in addition to offering a variety of music.”

The article explains that Station Manager Will Conway was having trouble getting the station back on the air “because of the absence of people who understand how to fix the technology necessary to run a radio station.”

A fall 2011 article also mentions that WSLN has not been very active as a campus organization and that many students were unaware of its existence. The piece profiles some of the students who were hoping to revive the station. The article states that, “After being out of the public spotlight for years, Ohio Wesleyan’s campus radio station WSLN is making an effort to become a relevant student medium again under new management.” The article describes a dilapidated station with little funding and few listeners. It also explained that the majority of listeners tuned in online and that troubles with the stream accounted for a big set-back at WSLN.

Although assistant Station Manager Sam Sonnega acknowledged in the fall 2011 Transcript article that radio is not as important to young people, saying, “radio is sort of an obsolete medium”; he also expressed optimism about WSLN’s future. He argued that, “A big responsibility of a school is to create space for arts to flourish… Radio is a great opportunity to do that, especially for music.”

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2 Responses to Ohio Wesleyan Turns Back License for College Radio Station WSLN

  1. Bruce Driver March 1, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I was a student at OWU in 1951 to 1953 and worked as an engineer for WSLN. In those days we operated a 10 watt Gates transmitter on a frequency near the lower limit of the FM band. The station was housed in a temporary frame structure similar to a WWII barracks building.

    The station presented live drama programs – performers standing, scripts in hand, floor microphones and sound effects on transcriptions. Live sports broadcasts. On air interviews with big band music names visiting the campus – Kenton, May, Anthony and so on. This was in the time before TV. FM was not a popular medium. We built and installed “translators” that received the on air FM broadcast and then re-broadcast by carrier current AM in the college dorms in an effort to build student listeners.

    I transferred to University of Denver and while there worked as a studio/transmitter engineer at KMYR, an AM station in Denver. I had the opportunity to work with Gene Amole, a very popular radio personality. Gene and the station manager purchased KMYR from the Myers brothers and went on to establish a classical FM station.

    • Jennifer Waits March 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing these memories. I’ve heard stories about AM carrier current stations re-broadcasting FM and I always wondered how that worked. Fascinating!

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