New FM jazz station music to WNIU’s ears

By Fred Heuschel

WNIU is trying to secure a new FM jazz station.

Michael Lazar, WNIU general manager, said the radio station is close to getting a second FM license from the Federal Communication Commission. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel and we’re so much closer than before,” he said.

WNIU has tried to get a second FM band since 1983, but has encountered opposition from other stations competing for the frequency, Lazar said.

WNIU had secured the station, but a station from Chicago has made numerous appeals to the FCC decision, he said. The two stations are awaiting the FCC’s overdue decision on the most recent appeal, he said.

“This is their (the Chicago station’s) last possible appeal, and if they lose, it will be the third time they’ve been rejected. The only alternative they have left would be to file suit against us, and it would be a really silly suit,” Lazar said.

The previous failed appeals indicate that the current appeal by the opposition station will fail, and WNIU will get the construction permit, he said.

Although WNIU’s new home in the Palmer Building will be completed by October or November, the new station probably won’t go on the air until early 1991.

However, Lazar said, “Once we get approval for the station, we can begin dealing with funding. We’ve applied for funding from the U.S. Commerce Department. The grant recipients will be announced in August.”

The total cost of setting up the station will be about $600,000, which includes getting the tower, antenna, microwave unit, control room and production equipment in working order, he said.

The commerce grant would total half of the necessary money needed for the set-up, Lazar said.

“We would raise the other half of the money from a capitol campaign. We would go to businesses, corporations and individuals and ask them for contributions,” he said.

Lazar said the basic programming of the two stations would be very similiar to the jazz and classical programs of the current WNIU. “Essentialy we do three things at WNIU—classical, jazz and news. All we’d be doing is shifting news and jazz from one staion to another,” he said.

WNIU program director Tom Emmons said he would do the programming for both stations and has no intention of making radical change in style for either format. “We plan to build on the strength we have, rather than change anything,” he said.‘