SEMO radio station goes on the air

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

MIKE WELLS * photos@semissourian.com

Southeast Missouri State University senior broadcasting major Katie Mankus, station manager of the new student-operated campus radio station, KDMC 103.7 FM, watched as the station's advisor, professor Bruce Mims, put in a playlist change in the computer system.By Mike Wells ~ Southeast Missourian

Much like the volume control on a college student's stereo, campus radio in Cape Girardeau has just been cranked up.

Now broadcasting at 103.7 on the FM dial, Southeast Missouri State University's student-operated campus radio station, KDMC, is reaching listeners within a 6- to 8-mile radius.

The largely alternative rock music station drifted into the airwaves with a commercial-free format Aug. 20. The university obtained a new low-power FM license in July, and the station's new studios in the basement of the Harold O. Grauel building are nearly complete.

"We're working very feverishly to get everything together," said the station's faculty adviser, Bruce Mims. "The studios are not complete, but the computer system is operating in a fully automated mode right now."

The station will host an official sign-on party from 10:30 to noon Saturday during the Homecoming festivities. Getting KDMC from idea to reality took about two and a half years, Mims said.

Senior Katie Mankus is the station manager. She recently completed an internship at 93.7 The Bull, a country music station in St. Louis, and wants to become an on-air radio personality after college.

"It's really exciting," she said of the new station. "When I first heard this was going to happen, I wanted to be a part of it from the start."

Mankus will be training some of her fellow broadcasting students in how to operate the studio's new $31,000 computer system. There will be about seven students in station management, including a music and a news director, and about 20 students helping out in other positions.

There are no live DJs right now, though. Songs are selected by computer from a playlist. Mims hopes to have live announcers trained within the next month.

"We're about a month away from being able to take song requests," he said.

Currently, KDMC plays primarily guitar-heavy alternative bands like Switchfoot, Linkin Park and Audioslave. The music format was largely chosen based on a survey of about 60 students, Mims said. Future plans include incorporating urban music into the format because it was the other genre students chose as a top favorite in the survey, he said.

Next to campus, a stereo plays KDMC in the kitchen of Burrito-Ville on North Sprigg. The restaurant workers enjoy the station's mix of popular alternative music with lesser known alternative bands.

"I love it," said Niki Detjen of Cape Girardeau. "It plays songs I've never heard before, and I like that. It's almost all music all the time, except for some public service announcements, so it's no talk."

Her co-worker agreed.

"I like the music they play, the alternative stuff," said Chris Haggen, a Southeast junior from St. Louis. "I listened to 107.1 before, but they just play the same songs over and over. This station plays different stuff, more of a variety."

Learn by doing

KDMC's four studios are intended to be laboratories for the broadcast students, Mims said. The main studio room is large enough to seat about 30 students.

"It's no different than for a chemistry student in a lab conducting studies and writing about the results," he said. "They're here to learn by doing."

Previously, Southeast's student-run radio station was limited to KMXQ, which was available to about 2,000 students with access to the campus cable channel 14. That was shut down at the end of the spring semester. But at some point, KDMC will be simulcast on channel 14 along with visuals of campus bulletins, Mims said. The university also operates KRCU, at 90.9 FM, as the region's Public Radio station.

KDMC will be designed to reach people overlooked by Cape Girardeau's other stations, Mims said. That might include high school students and other groups who often feel left out of the typical rock or pop station's format.

"We're a community radio station," he said. "We're trying to position ourselves as the provider of information to students that no other stations are providing."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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