WJCU turns the dial to ‘cool’

April 19th, 2012

“And that was ‘Up, up, up,’ by the Givers, and before that, ‘Love Spreads,’ by Stone Roses. Up next, we have ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaac on 88.7, The Heights.”

That’s what you might hear if you tune your dial to WJCU-FM on 88.7 on your drive home from work.

In a recent article in Men’s Health, WJCU-FM was named one of the top 20 coolest college radio stations.

Men’s Health writer and editor Mike Darling was unavailable for comment. And although he never clarified exactly what qualifies a college station as one of the “coolest,” the article did include this brief description of JCU’s very own noncommercial radio station:

“Founded in 1969, John Carroll University’s station features a mix of students and local volunteers. The undergrads dominate ‘The Heights,’ a popular alt-rock program that fills the mornings and afternoons during the week. If you prefer a more eclectic music mix, try ‘Haunted Graffiti’ on Thursday evenings (indie rock from the ‘80s and ‘90s) or Caribbean Groove on Saturday nights.”

The station has the potential audience of 1.2 million people in the greater Cleveland area and streams live globally on to the WJCU-FM website.

During the daytime hours, the radio station is run entirely by students, but after 6 p.m. both students and community members host shows on WJCU-FM.

Freshman Maddie Baggett is one of the disc jockeys for The Heights (which is hosted exclusively by JCU students), and is considering majoring in communication.

“I love being a deejay because we are a voice for the audience. Unlike a CD or iPod, the radio is that road-side companion that everyone needs after a long day at work,” said Baggett. “Even though we don’t get a chance to see our listeners, we know that they enjoy having us along for the ride.”

Baggett recently became the station’s promotions director, which requires her to contact all of the venues so that the station has tickets to give away on the air.

According to station manager Jimmy Perkins, one of the things that makes WJCU-FM unique is the fact that all director positions are held by JCU students.

Junior Rebecca Ferlotti has served the station as a personnel director and host of the show “Video Killed the Radio Star,” on Wednesday mornings from midnight to 2 a.m., which she enjoys hosting.

She said, “I like having my own show on the radio station.”

Ferlotti feels that WJCU-FM is one of the coolest stations because the studio is nice and the culture is unique.
“The equipment here is very advanced, the learning process is more interactive and we’re all a family here,” she said.

In addition to the current students working in the WJCU-FM studios, the station has also had several notable alumni, including the late Tim Russert and world-renowned hip hop DJ Mick Boogie.

After graduating JCU in 2005 with an MBA in marketing, Boogie went on to host what would become one of Cleveland’s longest running and most prolific hip hop shows, The Butters. According to Boogie, “[The show] really helped create and support the underground hip hop movement in Cleveland in the late ‘90s.”

“The knowledge I learned in the classroom in marketing and business, plus the experience I got in the music industry starting with WJCU all combined to create this amazingly fun life for me,” he said. “Some of the best days of my life were spent at WJCU.”

During his time at JCU as an undergraduate and graduate student, Boogie said he visited other college stations, and they were far from what WJCU-FM offers.

“The studio was very cutting edge and current. When I would visit friends at other schools, their radio stations were nasty, smelly basements. Ours was clean, new and perfect,” he said.

JCU students also enjoy listening to WJCU-FM.

“I like the variety, and I like hearing my friends on the radio between songs,” said sophomore Nick Sciarappa.
Mark Krieger, general manager of the radio station and professor of communication, was happy to be on this list as well.

Krieger has been with the station since he came to JCU in 2004 and has helped build WJCU-FM into what it is today.
Perkins, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the station, said, “College radio is so different at every university. What I think makes WJCU unique is that we have our format [show], The Heights, that’s every weekday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m … At night, we also have a night format, In the Heat of the Night, from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., and that’s when you hear all the newest indie [music].”

Another reason he said WJCU-FM is so successful is because they keep up with the top music of the time. According to Perkins, WJCU-FM was the first station in Cleveland to play Adele, Mumford and Sons and Kings of Leon, which are just several examples of how 88.7 manages to stay ahead of the curve with their repertoire.

“We all do it here because we love the music, and that’s really what shines through to our listeners,” said Perkins. “The personalities of our deejays really come through, not only in the music they play, but with how they interact with the fans and how [they] take requests. That’s what I find to be the coolest thing.”

This was evident this past spring, as the annual Radiothon fundraiser brought in record-breaking funds of over $40,000 from roughly 800 donors, which will keep the station running at full kilowatts for another “cool” year, and even afford them enough money to remodel the production studio and keep all of the equipment up-to-date.