After maintaining the WMCE-FM 88.5 noncommercial radio station for more than 25 years, Mercyhurst plans to pass the torch of ownership to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in a sale that benefits both institutions.
The studio was originally bought by William Garvey, Mercyhurst president at the time, because of his great appreciation for classical music. However, the station was not initially student-run.
Over the past few years, the radio station has lost many students’ interest and was costly because of the need to maintain a FCC license and the old equipment that would need to be upgraded.
“When President (Michael T.) Victor took over, his marching order to all of us was to review and make sure that everything we do benefits the students. His idea was that we are here and the things that we should be spending money on and doing should be a benefit to the students,” Brian Sheridan, Communication department chair, said.
While the station did not lack popularity beyond the gates of Mercyhurst, very few students on campus listened to the station, and some did not even know it existed.
“It makes more sense for LECOM to have the radio station, if that’s what they want, and running oldies than it does for us,” said Sheridan. “We have never had a student come to Mercyhurst and work with the station because they feel connected to the oldies being played. If you’re in health care, which LECOM is, with hospitals and offices, then that demographic is the demographic you want to hit for health care.”
As time passes and trends change, the Mercyhurst Communication department has taken the initiative to keep up with what’s current while also keeping in mind the future and the relevance of the education that’s being provided.
“While we won’t have an FCC station on campus anymore, it does open us up to numerous possibilities. The old-school FCC radio station isn’t the future, and maintaining it for campus was a large financial burden,” Courtney Lang, assistant professor of Communication, said.
Looking towards the future of the Communication department, the sound booth will be getting an upgrade, utilizing a portion of the income from the sale of the station to be established as a podcasting facility.
A digital audio course and podcasting class are also being developed to expand students’ skillsets.
“I’m happy to see that LECOM purchased it, meaning that it is not leaving town, and that new opportunities will open for students,” Lang said.
Although it can be disappointing to see part of Mercyhurst history leaving the campus, it will undoubtedly be taken care of, and Mercyhurst has strived to provide the best for the students.