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EXCHANGE: Celebrating University of St. Francis radio

December 21, 2018

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — For the past 30 years, WCSF 88.7 at the University of St. Francis in Joliet has been entertaining listeners in Will County and around the world.

About 25 people, most of them USF students, volunteer their time to broadcast music, shows and Fighting Saints sports. It’s a mainly student-run station in which they do everything from deciding the music line-up to providing their on-air talents to promotions.

The station actually began as the WCSF Radio Club under Richard Lorenc, a USF Associate Professor of Communications and Media Arts, in 1978 as a carrier current station. It could only be heard in the dorms on campus via a 10-watt transmitter that students could plug into a wall outlet.

About 25 people, most of them USF students, volunteer their time to broadcast music, shows and Fighting Saints sports. It’s a mainly student-run station in which they do everything from deciding the music line-up to providing their on-air talents to promotions.

The station actually began as the WCSF Radio Club under Richard Lorenc, a USF Associate Professor of Communications and Media Arts, in 1978 as a carrier current station. It could only be heard in the dorms on campus via a 10-watt transmitter that students could plug into a wall outlet.

Then the station got its educational FM radio station license, and the students did their first broadcast on Sept. 5, 1988, Lorenc said.

“It’s about learning first,” Lorenc said. “That’s why we offer the radio classes. (The students) take the radio classes and earn a spot on the station.”

Now the station is a robust operation with students creating their own programming, especially now with digital media. They record podcasts and stream online, which has given the station international exposure.

WCSF has gained a reputation for introducing its listeners to new artists. Anthony Musiala, WCSF’s station manager, said they receive dozens of records from up and coming artists every week.

″(Promoters) know that we’re one of the forefront stations out there who are playing these newer artists,” Musiala said.

One of the station’s most popular programs is the Spirit of Christmas, 24 hours a day of commercial-free Christmas music, running from Thanksgiving Day to Jan. 2. It’s been a tradition for the last 25 years.

Bob Zak, the general manager of WCSF in 1993, thought there was a lack of Christmas music on the radio at the time and decided to start the program. It’s taken off ever since, proving a bit of a challenge to get a variety-filled rotation of over 4,000 songs.

“It take a lot of work, a lot of planning, a lot of good, quality automation to keep the station on the air 24 hours a day,” said Don Burke, director of programming for the Spirit of Christmas. “We pick every song.”

The Spirit of Christmas has become a staple, Burke said, so much so that he’ll receive calls on a live request show he does on Sunday evenings from longtime listeners.

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Source: The (Joliet) Herald-News, https://bit.ly/2AzuGQW

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Information from: The Herald-News, http://www.theherald-news.com/

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