WJMU, Millikin’s campus radio station, hopes to return to the airwaves on Oct. 6 for College Radio Day

The station, which is currently streaming online, was knocked off the air when its tower was damaged in a storm last April.

WJMU The Quad

DECATUR, Ill. – Last April, Millikin University students may have noticed a large crane parked on campus in front of Shilling Hall, working on the roof. The crane was there to remove the tower that broadcasted the signal of WJMU “The Quad,” Millikin’s award-winning college radio station, which a severe spring storm damaged. 

“The wind was the culprit. We had storms across Central Illinois that blew our tower right off the top of Shilling,” WJMU Station Manager and Instructor in the School of Art and Creative Media Sam Meister said. “The tower had been up since 1989, and we replaced the antenna about three years, so it was disappointing that that was also affected.”

The loss of the tower brought WJMU’s reach, which broadcasts on 89.5 FM across Macon County, down to barely covering all of campus. Listeners across the county have contacted Meister, wondering what happened. 

WJMU The Quad

“Typically, we are broadcasting at 1,000 watts. After the storm, we were broadcasting in about a two-block area, and we were not putting out more than 25 watts,” Sam said. “We have had a lot of calls from area residents on both telephone, email and social media about what is going on with WJMU. Unfortunately, it’s not a flip-a-switch project, and a lot of infrastructure replacement needed to happen.”

Since the storm, Meister and Millikin’s Facilities representatives have formulated a plan for returning the station to the air, which includes a smaller tower with a more powerful transmitter. The price tag for the project is $172,000, and the station will fundraise about $100,000 in a future donor campaign. Although the project won’t be complete until the Spring 2024 semester, WJMU could return to the airwaves much sooner. 

“We are going to launch a donor campaign and we are exploring our fundraising options, including grants and local partnerships,” Sam said. “The date in my head to be back on air in some capacity is Oct. 6, which is College Radio Day. We will join in with the festivities and hopefully, we will have someone live on the air hosting from here in the studio for 8-10 hours. I would love to have people back in the studio hosting live programming that day.”

WJMU The Quad

While not on the FM dial currently, the show continues at WJMU, which was named a finalist for Best Small College Campus Radio Station by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System in 2021, as a new batch of student-led shows and music are being developed. 

“I’m excited and we have a full crew in the Intro to Radio Industry class this semester. We also have more independent study and advanced students than I have had in other years,” Sam said. “The plan is to get back to regular programming on the stream before we get back on the air. Students will still be doing all the functional things they have done before, but it will be on the stream for now. Hopefully, on Oct. 6, we will be back.” 

To give a gift to WJMU's campaign, contact Alumni & Development at 217-424-6383 or email drbaker@millikin.edu