U Maryland's WMUC-FM needs money to stay on-air


The suburban DC student-run station is already signal-impaired. With a short antenna and 10 watts of output, it has issues getting outside of the immediate campus area. Add to that Baltimore’s NPR affiliate WYPR-FM and its Frederick, MD simulcast (WYPR—both co-channel at 88.1 with WMUC) and you have very limited coverage. But the station has been there for decades and now the university’s student government association allotted it only about $7,000 in funding for the year. It had requested $24,000.

So, reports the Baltimore Sun, students, alums and athletes have rallied to try to help save the University’s station, which also streams online.

During an appeals session 4/20, the station had its grant almost doubled until the SGA realized it had miscalculated and did not have the funds to fulfill the request (see the GM’s comments, below).

If the station can’t find a way to raise more money, it could be forced to kill some of its online offerings, including the sports department.  That site not only gives young broadcast journalists a chance to work in a real-time environment, it also provides coverage of the university’s non-revenue teams.

The outpouring of support has been encouraging, said the paper. National media members from Sports Illustrated and The New York Times have advocated for the cause via Twitter. Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien, came to its defense with this tweet: “The SGA needs to rethink some things before it loses a great asset to our school.”

Said WMUC GM Mario Pareja-Lecaros on 4/21:

“Budget Situation

UPDATE: We are now handling the @WMUCRadio account so please make sure you follow it for the latest news!
WMUC is currently facing a major financial crisis. We received our SGA budget allocations about four weeks ago. We requested $24,000 dollars and we only received $7,000. The funds we requested mostly cover telecommunications, including our internet and telephone that maintain our streams and this website. We also requested funds for our dues and fees that we incur as a radio station, and lastly funds for audio equipment that often needs replacement and repair.

We appealed to the SGA Finance Committee last week and were promptly denied our funds. Last night, we appeared before the SGA Legislature to appeal the decision of the Finance Committee and at around 9PM, after much back and forth deliberation (and after granting MaryPIRG $44,000), the SGA passed the amendment to grant WMUC an additional $6,000 so that we would have enough funds in our telecommunications budget to maintain operations. We celebrated in victory and we all went home. Unfortunately, we found out soon that the discussion did not end there.

Upon the Stamp reservation time running out at around midnight the SGA moved to the basement of Anne Arundel Hall to continue. Sports Business Director Jamie Forzato was given a tip and promptly rushed back to see what was going on. Apparently, the SGA had overbudgeted their appeal allocations. MaryPIRG’s $44,000 request to fund 2 non-student salaries for their lobbyists had left their allocations budget with about $4,000 left for the 12 other groups appealing. By 4 a.m., WMUC had lost the $6000 that we were granted, and most of the staff didn’t find out about this until the following morning.

We are raising awareness all over the net, watch out on twitter and make sure to follow @wmucradio, @wmucsports, @marioapareja, and @jamieforzato for up-to-date news. We have a fund raising event at the station tomorrow from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. hosted by DJ Boss Player for students. There will be loud music and not a lot of room so it will be fantastic. We also will have a larger fund raising event open to the public called WMUC Fest and more information can be found on the facebook event http://tinyurl.com/wmucfest.”

You can donate to WMUC by going here.

RBR-TVBR observation: You will note that the funds needed are not so much about the electric bill for the transmitter, but paying for the internet streaming (and of course rights fees, but for this station it would only be $100 per year “proxy fee”) costs. The station streams at 160 kbps. Lowering that to something like 48 kbps may save some money. But with the outflow of support shown here and the fundraisers, they may be just fine.