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Pump up the volume

For 15 years, USF’s WBUL has been a small, student-run radio station. The station started in a classroom May 23, 1988, and operated off a cable FM feed, later moving into its present location, the lower level of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

However, it wasn’t until October 1999 that the station got its first AM signal tower.

This summer, on the eve of its 15th anniversary, the station will be making some major changes and emerge in the fall as a fully functioning and technology-driven radio station, station manager Kendrell Watkins said.

WBUL, 1620 AM, recently became a Student Government agency and was awarded a substantial budget increase from SG. This increase in funds will allow the station to offer a few paid positions where there were none before, fix a tower that was hit by lightning and make additions to the studio where DJs broadcast, Watkins said.

“Since I’ve been working at the radio station, funding has always been a problem, mainly from the equipment side of things,” music director Eric Turner said. “If you let 100 different people use your car every week, after a while everything would start to break because of the use put on it. The same goes for our station. Everything from CD players, record needles, headphones and speakers need to constantly be fixed.”

The increase in funds for WBUL will have a domino effect, not only in terms of fixing and updating equipment, but also allowing the station’s signal to have farther reach and, consequently, more listeners.

“Changes are being made because the station is supposed to be a place where students interested in radio can go to get experience and possibly move on to other stations,” Watkins said. “The influx of new funds will allow the station to pick out equipment with help from a technician from 88.5 FM so that it is like a regular radio station. We hope the new machines will give students experience that helps them make an easy transition into real radio.”

Turner said more money for WBUL can also mean a better broadcasting frequency, more campus promotional events and a more visible student organization.

The station has scheduled its first free promotional event for students since the budget increase. Today from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., local R&B group XL will give a performance at the MLK Plaza, and WBUL will give away promotional material and refreshments, Watkins said.

“When (XL) opened for Ashanti at the Florida State Fair, they stuck around to meet with local radio stations, including WBUL. They were very anxious to promote their new CD, titled Issues. I proposed the idea to their management that a promotional show at USF would be beneficial to both WBUL and XL, and they were more than willing to do the event,” Watkins said.

This fall, Watkins said the station plans to introduce a news show to its programming schedule, as well as to bring a conference to Tampa to inform students interested in radio affiliation or record company affiliation and programming, he said.

“With the advent of the increased funds, we are now working out a budget to put on the biggest event WBUL has ever done on campus, and it will be a tremendous way to celebrate not only our 15 years in existence, but our rebirth,” said Durium Jones, marketing promotions and hip hop director.

Contact Annie Curnowat