Radio X, NMU’s student run radio station, has been taken off the air waves temporarily over the next few months.
Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Radio X will be forced to shut down its transmitter because of maintenance work being done by Wisconsin Electric, who owns the smokestack that the transmitter is located in. Water damage has rusted both the lid to the smokestack and the maintenance stairs leading up to the transmitter, said Radio X Station Manager Erin Astle. Because of the rust damage to the lid of the smokestack, rain water has seeped into the area where the transmitter is located. The water near the transmitter has created an electrical hazard for the maintenance staff.
The shutdowns began Tuesday, Sept.7, and could last through November. The repairs are regrettable, but necessary, Astle said.
“It may take longer, or it may take shorter. There are a lot of things that are in disrepair. They are trying to fix them all at once,” she said.
Though Radio X will not be broadcasting over the radio, the station will still be available online at www.wupx .com, Astle said.
“It’s really not as bad as it sounds. DJ’s will still be doing shows on the internet. This is not something we can really control,” she said.
Although many Radio X listeners listen online and will be unaffected by the shutdown, not broadcasting over the radio waves may have some negative repercussions, said Radio X General Manager David Miller.
“If we’re not on the air, we’re not a real radio station. If we’re down every day, people are going to get into the habit of listening elsewhere,” Miller said.
For North Wind Assistant Sports Editor Brice Burge, who hosts a sports talk show that focuses on NMU athletics, having people listening locally over the radio waves is important to the quality of his show, he said. Burge’s show, Cat Chat Radio, brings in people from the NMU sports community to interview over the air.
“When it is not a live broadcast, it makes getting local interviews harder. They might not want to come if they know they can’t be heard locally,” Burge said.
Burge has had as many as 50 online listeners, but the listener audience online is not nearly as stable as the base of radio listeners, he said. Many people listen to his program while driving to work, and with Radio X being taken off the air during his time slot, he will have to regain them, he said.
“I hate to say, but I think we’re going to lose a lot of student listeners. We’re going to have to go back out and get them back,” Burge said.
Editors note: Brice Burge is the assistant sports editor at the North Wind and was necessary for the reporting of this story.