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WMBR Fundrasing Drive Is a Success

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

Walker Memorial Basement Radio (WMBR), 88.1 FM, collected nearly $37,000 during its annual fundraising drive that ended this week. The drive, which began last Thursday, was regarded as a success, according to station personnel.

The station, located appropriately in Walker Memorial, receives space and utilities at no cost from the Institute, in addition to $15,000 yearly to cover basic operating expenses. However, with a yearly budget close to $60,000, the fundraiser is needed to meet the difference.

Over 100 volunteers, including students, alumni, and community members, contribute to all aspects of the station's management. About 60 percent are students.

While many students seem to know little about the station, its audience is quite large, said Leigh Cochran, who hosts a '60s variety show entitled Lost and Found. Broadcasting from atop Eastgate apartments, the station can be received as far away as New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

This year's fundraising goal was set at $40,000, above last year's exceeded goal of $35,000. All funds were solicited over the air, and donors called in to make pledges.

"Our goal was $40,000, but [$37,000] is darn close and it was a very ambitious goal," Cochran said. "It's more than we've ever raised in the past," she said.

In the past, money has been used to upgrade the studios, to buy CD players and to maintain turntables and tape decks, said Angelynn Grant, host of Coffeetime, a Tuesday evening jazz program. Funds have also been used to expand the record library, to improve production facilities, and to increase broadcast power and fidelity, she said.

As a token of appreciation for donations this week, contributors were given WMBR souvenirs. Those donating $50 or more received a WMBR sweatshirt, $40 contributors received a tote bag, $35 donors received a t-shirt, $30 pledges received a Breakfast of Champions cereal bowl, and $25 sponsors received a WMBR mug.

WMBR programming diverse

Grant described WMBR's programming as eclectic, since broadcasts range from evening news to free-form alternative music.

Most shows are coordinated individually by interested parties although the station also airs third-party programming such as the daily Pacifica News Radio.

The programming is "very diverse," said announcer Eli Polonsky, another "Lost and Found" host. "There's really a show of just about any kind you can think of at some point during our schedule during the week."

For many announcers, the most attractive aspect of the non-commercial station is the artistic freedom they are given. In most commercial FM stations programming and music are selected by managers, and the announcer has very little input in these matters. Conversely, WMBR announcers are almost completely unrestricted in their subject matter.

"I can play anything I want in any combination, and I can say what I want about the music" said Margy Dowzer, who hosts a free-form variety show called Wake Up Call. Her musical selections include jazz, acoustic, world-music, pagan, and gospel.

Since the station is completely based on the support of volunteers, anyone interested is encouraged to get involved. Members have shown a particular interest in the opinions of the students, and are open to programming ideas.