As dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication, I oversee the operation of WEAA-FM. It is in this role that I write to you today regarding the future of Morgan State University’s NPR affiliated radio station.
Let me begin by assuring you that WEAA-FM is not closing – and it is not getting rid of its jazz programming.
WEAA-FM is a university funded radio station that was created 40 years ago as a learning lab for the school’s students, whose tuition and fees continue to heavily subsidize its operation. Maintaining the station’s role as a “learning lab” is an essential part of my job. It’s also a major justification for Morgan’s support of the station’s operating costs.
So, it should not surprise anyone when I say that the primary mission of WEAA-FM is to be a learning lab for Morgan’s students. Ensuring that Morgan’s radio station meets its educational mission is a job that I take seriously. But I believe we can – and will – do this while also making sure that the station is a source of quality music, news, talk, and public affairs programming.
I repeat: we’re not getting rid of jazz.
In fact, it is our intention to expand the opportunity for people in WEAA-FM’s broadcast area to hear our jazz programs; and to find ways to expose our jazz, reggae and Latin music shows to people who may not currently be part of the station’s listening audience.
But just as the radio industry has not been static, the way we program WEAA-FM shouldn’t be either. In its 24/7 broadcast operation, Morgan’s radio station has room to also address the musical tastes of people in our urban market that we currently do not serve. We will look for ways to reach them, too.
Morgan President David Wilson has assured me of his commitment to WEAA-FM’s future – and I assure you of my determination to make Morgan’s radio station an even more impactful “voice of the community.”
DeWayne Wickham is the founding dean of the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University.