WGUR offers students new experiences
It doesn’t stand out from the other doors in the hallway. And if you didn’t know where to look you’d probably walk by without a second thought. But behind Lanier 110’s wooden door with a keypad is a radio station—an opportunity.WGUR 88.9 is Georgia College’s campus radio station—one of the 21 college stations in the state of Georgia, according to Quadphonic.com. The student-run station is housed in a four-room, square office. One room for storage, one for recording and pre-production, one for on-air production and one—the largest of the four—for everything else. There’s a couch with a brown throw on it. The wall is lined with previous T-shirts and bumper stickers. A mural of the station’s logo is painted on the far wall greeting all who enter. As inviting as the large room is, it isn’t where the magic happens. The production room is a small closet-sized room with walls lined with CDs of previous hits. Here, in this room students leave their books behind and enter a fast-paced world of song requests and microphones to become on-air radio show hosts.
Senior mass communication major Ben Elliott has been on air for four years. After hours of airtime, his fingers now deftly move over the soundboard adjusting everything perfectly before he goes live on a weekly show.
“I’ve had shows from sports, talk to local music and morning shows; I kind of try to do just about everything,” Elliott said. “So I kind of rose to the ranks from the very bottom not even knowing if that’s what I wanted to do to the point where I love it a lot.”
Elliott is now the general manager of the station along with hosting a show called America Hour every Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. He happened upon a WGUR booth as a freshman and signed up thinking he’d only do it for one semester.
“I really enjoyed all the things you can do with radio and I wanted more and to do more radio and then I started looking into professional radio,” Elliott said. “Then I began looking for more and I wanted to be on the exec staff.”
Elliott and his co-host Ryan Barr’s show covers a wide variety of topics from politics to current events. Right before going on, he slides the microphone volume to about 70 percent—the perfect amount he says—and loads up two or three songs for after his introduction. He lays his show notes on top of the soundboard. One five-by-seven sheet of paper filled on both sides is all Elliott needs—not that he really needs it after all the research he does for the show.
“There’s a lot of preparation involved. A lot of people think radio is just sitting in front of a microphone and talking and giving your opinion the whole time and it’s a lot more than that. You have to know what you’re going to talk about,” Elliott said. “You have to know what you’re going to transition between topics; you have to know what songs you’re going to play; you have to know something about the artist. For about an hour show there’s about two hours of preparation.”
Not everything is thoroughly planned though. Since radio is live, there are plenty of opportunities for mishaps.
“When I first started doing radio we used to have to read sponsorships…and it seems like our radio show always got the most awkward ones; I could never say these without laughing,” Elliott said. “One time we were having to do announcements and I had to do the ‘Vagina Monologues’ and it was just ‘Come to MSU Lounge, this is going to happen;’ It was like a detailed descriptive thing on ‘Vagina Monologues’ and me and my co-host could not stop laughing. I felt bad because I knew these people were listening but we could not do it— two guys who are freshman in college could not do that.”
Last semester, senior mass communication major Ian Bridgeforth hit the microphone for his political radio show, Polschat—or #polschat on Twitter.
“Originally, it started as a Twitter party or Twitter chat. In my effort to try and make things different and try to stand out from other Twitter chats, because there are literally hundreds of them, I decided to have an online element and bring radio into it,” Bridgeforth said. “It would be interactive, you can hear things and it won’t just be sitting online for an hour.”
The radio show was heard all over the country thanks to WGUR’s online live stream. Audience members interact and discuss the political topics of the show on Twitter. Due to the amount of political news, his show required extensive planning. To prepare for his show, Bridgeforth scoured the Internet for political news and videos he feels need to be discussed.
“I would prepare maybe four to five hours. Maybe less, but for safety I make sure to get as much time to be as prepared,” Bridgeforth said. “I’ll look and see what the news of the day is and what interests people. Some times it’s personal, sometimes you feel like ‘I need to talk about this.’”
Radio has allowed Bridgeforth to share his political passion.
Like Elliott, Bridgeforth started at the radio as an experiment and it grew into a love. Bridgeforth, like Elliott, also had his fair share of problems on air as a freshman.
“Freshman year…we came into the station and we were just playing around and playing (music from) ‘Lion King’ and stuff like that and somehow one of the station officers came in and took us out, that was the end,” Bridgeforth said.
Now he plays much more relevant music for his audiences. There is no longer any Disney music heard during his shows.
“I’ll play whatever you hear at say Kroger or Wal-mart—granted that music might be spanning from decades—it’s sort of that thing, easy,” Bridgeforth said. “But then again I was at Kroger and I heard Beyoncé.”
So if you hear the sounds of “Single Ladies” or “Halo” from Lanier Hall, just know Bridgeforth’s at the microphone for WGUR 88.9.