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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

WUEV In Peril

Saturday
February 4, 2005

"And it makes your story our concern
And you set it up for returns"
-Nirvana "Opinions"

Before I begin the main focus of this post, a few housekeeping items. I like Pittsburgh (-4) in the Super Bowl. It's my take that Ben Roethlisberger isn't receiving the type of attention he deserves. The guy, when healthy, has played out-of-his-mind great since he entered the NFL. But because he played in the MAC, he didn't get major billing coming out of college (despite being a Top 15 draft pick in 2004), and I think it'll take him finally winning the Super Bowl to get the respect he deserves.

If there's any doubt, look at his past three weeks: wins at Cincinnati, at Indianapolis and at Denver. That's a murderer's row right there, but he has handled it with a veteran's coolness... yet even with the hype of the Super Bowl, he seems to be under-appreciated. I just don't get it.

Things with the Bubba show are going great. I no longer feel like I'm drowning with the order fulfillment work, and things are working wonderfully. This isn't like in 2002 when I had my columns on here and I couldn't write about how much hell I was in with the Meddler... There's nothing limiting me here. It just so happens I work for a show where things are going great, where management lets us do our show without trying to mess things up (the Sirius management crew is great), and where we happen to be paired with the wildly popular Howard Stern show in morning drive, which has in turn exposed our show to many, many new listeners. It's all positive. And as I've mentioned before, I knew that it could play out this way, which makes it that much more gratifying to see it play out like this.

On the terrestrial radio side, there's my old college station, WUEV, which is apparently on the brink of being sold by the University of Evansville. If any UE grads are reading this, go to SaveWUEV.com, e-mail Marcia Dowell and let it be known that selling WUEV would be a huge mistake.

The school has treated WUEV like something to be embarrassed about dating back to when I was there, which is inexplicable. To point, they airbrush the antenna off of Olmstead Hall in promo photos to pretend like it doesn't exist. UE ran out Len Clark, who was a brilliant station manager and who taught me a great deal about the business. From what I understand, in its current form, students aren't even allowed to do sports broadcasts anymore. I've also heard that the WUEV news department has been scaled back.

Whispers on the street are that this is a done deal and that the public comment session is a hoax meant to prevent any sort of backlash (like what happened in early 1998 when UE dropped its football program.) I hope that's not the case, but I know how radio works. Anyway, onto the letter:

-----
Marcia Dowell,

It has come to my attention that the University of Evansville is considering selling its radio station, 91.5 WUEV. Unless the offer is for an exorbitant amount of money ($15 million or more), it would be a horrible decision to sell WUEV.

One of the deciding factors in me coming to the University of Evansville in 1995 was the fact that it had a radio station where students could work and learn the business. Because of my time at WUEV, I was able to procure the experience I needed to learn about radio, ultimately becoming the head of syndication of a nationally syndicated radio show by the time I was 25. I've since been promoted to being a producer for that show. Were it not for WUEV, I would not have had that opportunity.

Radio frequencies are a finite thing. The school was fortunate enough to have people in place in the early 1950s to obtain an FM signal that covers the entire Evansville metro area. For the University of Evansville, this is a resource with incredible potential for reaching the community, alumni living locally, and in recruiting students, both in town and from outside of the city.

If WUEV is sold, the school will never have a chance to obtain anything like it again. Even with a low-power station, the impact would be severe. The high school students in Evansville who listen to Party Lights, or the modern rock shows, will no longer be reached. The people in the community who love the jazz music played by the station will be in an uproar. Has the school considered the ramifications of displacing this programming, and the negative impact it would have on the people in the city?

The 1/31/2006 AceNotes Today noted that, "Currently, there are no academic ties between WUEV and a UE academic program, nor ties with the Center for Student Engagement." That is to the school's discredit. There should be academic ties between the station and the school. The fact that this was included in the release is rather frightening to me, and it seems to lend credence to the rumors that I've heard that this is already a done deal and that the public comment session is merely a sham to quell any potential backlash for the sale. I hope that this is not the case.

The University of Evansville is one of only a few dozen colleges and universities in the entire country to have its own full-power FM radio station. That is a mark of distinction, one not to be trifled with haphazardly. I strongly urge the school to not sell WUEV.

Lou Pickney
University of Evansville '99

cc: Evansville Crescent


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