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Student radio to cut back on airtime, look to Web

Brown Student Radio has agreed to a new lease for broadcasting time with the Wheeler School, a local high school, for its WELH 88.1 radio signal. The new contract, which will be effective through June 2009, reduces the group's daily airtime on the school's signal from ten hours to six by cutting the 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slots from its schedule.

In a letter to the Undergraduate Finance Board, BSR's general manager, David Paesani '10, wrote that the Wheeler School chose to take the evening time slot due to an increased interest in radio production among its students.

"BSR did not have much leverage in the situation, since WELH is owned by the Wheeler School," Paesani wrote. However, the station willingly gave up the 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. slot because those hours "were not worth it for BSR" according to Paesani's letter.

With this cut in airtime also comes a significant reduction in the price of the agreement. The new contract, which totals only $6,800, leaves funding available to bolster BSR's Web site, said Lily Tran '10, the UFB chair. BSR is funded primarily by an allocation from UFB, which gave the station $14,000 for the fall semester.

In exchange for cutting contract costs, Tran expects that BSR will ask UFB for funding to increase its Web presence. Tran said she was very optimistic about the future of BSR as a "hybrid radio station" that streams online as well as through a terrestrial signal.

Though its hours are reduced, the station will not suffer because of decreased airtime, according to Paesani. "BSR has had more shows this semester than it's ever had," he said, adding that no shows will have to be cut because of the change.

Also,the Wheeler School was granted permission to increase the power of WELH by the Federal Communications Commission and is in the process of building a new tower, which is scheduled to be completed by September. The increased power and new tower will enable the signal to reach more of Brown's campus and much of Providence, and will allow for high-definition broadcasting.

"Wheeler hasn't decided what they're going to do yet," Paesani said. "But this frees up much more time which is good for them and it's good for us."

In the letter, Paesani wrote that the new agreement "may provide an opportunity for BSR to take over larger portions of airtime on any of 88.1's channels, even to the point of operating full-time on one of these channels."

For the past few years UFB has been pushing BSR to strengthen its Web site and invest more energy in using the Internet more effectively since WELH's radio signal does not reach most of Brown. Tran said the new contract and the funds that will be allocated to BSR's Web site are in line with UFB's hopes and expectations for BSR. "This entire thing was actually perfect," she said.

"Internet radio is the future and BSR wants to be a part of that," Paesani said.


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