New tower lifts WNIU’s membership

By Suzanne Tomse

WNIU listeners have pledged $26,943 in the station’s spring membership campaign due in part to the station’s new transmission tower located 14 miles northwest of DeKalb near Lindenwood.

“The response to the new tower has been really fantastic,” said Mike Lazer, WNIU general manager. Lazar said the tower, which began broadcasts on Dec. 31, has improved reception in Beloit, Dixon, Elgin, Freeport, Mendota and Rockford.

“These are areas where new membership pledges went up dramatically,” he said. Pledges went up 63 percent from last year’s campaign and exceeded WNIU’s goal of $18,000 by nearly 50 percent. Of the 475 pledges, 365 are new members, said Lazar.

The station carried out the campaign by airing 7-9 minute announcements every 20 minutes. The ads suggested pledge amounts, but listeners were able to make voluntary offers, Lazar said.

“We did not think we would see the impact of the stronger signal so fast,” he said. The station’s average pledge was $56.62 and more than one-quarter of the listeners pledged on an installment plan.

With the installment plan, members pay $5 or $10 a month for one year. With their membership, listeners receive a programming guide and other premiums such as tote bags, umbrellas and coffee mugs.

Lazar said the membership funds will be used to purchase equipment, records and tapes. In addition, funds will be used for the development of new programming.

Although the tower has improved reception in most areas, there are some areas on campus where problems need to be worked out, Lazar said. He said some buildings on campus are blocking the radio signals. However, these problems can be corrected by getting better antennas and by the station broadcasting on the campus cable system, Lazar said.

In addition, the station will be petitioning for 18,000 more watts from the FCC in the next few weeks which should improve reception even more, Lazar said. Currently, the station is broadcasting with 32,000 watts.

Construction of the tower began in November and was completed after several weeks. The entire cost of the tower was about $400,000, which included construction, equipment and legal fees. Funds for the tower came from corporate and individual grants, from the NIU Foundation and from WNIU listeners.

“It’s nice to know what we have worked on for six years has paid off, ” Lazar said.

WNIU is a campus-based radio station which broadcasts classical music, jazz, news and public affairs to the universit