Over the past few days, the college radio station at the University of Maryland, WMUC 88.1, has faced a budget crisis due to de-funding by the Student Government Association. After almost 75 years, WMUC could stop transmitting. We need to find a way to save this radio station, whether it is fighting the SGA on their funding decisions or raising the money ourselves.
WMUC is important to the campus community as a source of news and independent music, as a source of affordable (free) live shows and (free) sound engineer training. It is a hold out of independent radio airspace in a world ruled by Clear Channel and you will never hear the same 10 songs on loop on WMUC. The station has birthed amazing DJS and musicians, journalists, independent record labels and independent music supporters. Unlike many other so-called college radio stations in this area, WMUC is student-run and truly allows a space for students to express themselves and learn about radio.
For me (and for countless others), WMUC has always been more than a radio station. My first show was with my freshman roommate Calei, it was called Talk Box and we played 90% indie bands I had never heard of. Later I convinced my friend Carter to start Hobo’s Lullaby with me, where we played folk and blues and anything with left-leaning lyrics and talked about politics. My last show was called Revolution Girl Style Now and ended in a blaze of glory when we played all Le Tigre for 2 hours (So much for my riot grrrl phase).
WMUC meant countless treks across campus at 2 am, 4 am, 6 am (and that one brilliant semester at 8 pm, oh the good life). We drank a lot of coffee and other things too, smoked cigarettes out the window (I’m not proud/don’t condone), ate bagels with olive oil and hot sauce (Carter and my vegan phase) and convinced our friends to bring us coffee at all hours of the night. We played songs on the radio when it was so cold we worried the tower would freeze and we had to wear ten layers because the heat was always broken. I spent my nineteenth birthday at the station, up above the South Campus Dining Hall on those suspiciously stained sofas.
WMUC facilitated hook ups and friendships, new musical discoveries and countless dance parties and live shows. Being involved with college radio cemented my interest in independent and community media, in D.I.Y. ethics. It’s where I learned how (and how not) to book and promote shows. Also, WMUC facilitated the beginning of my career as an artist–many of my first drawings were for show fliers. Without WMUC, Sassyfrass Circus would not exist. Without WMUC I think college life at the University of Maryland would have been bullshit.
If you are a member of the College Park community, if you support independent media, if you support independent artists, if you are in a band that has ever played at WMUC (in the good company of Don McLean and other greats), then please, help save WMUC.