Looking Back: WXOU’s 20 year battle

For more than 20 years, students have been able to tune in to 88.3 FM to listen to WXOU, the student radio station on campus. But in order to get to that point, the campus station had to struggle for years in order to give students and the community the ability to listen.

In the beginning, WXOU was just a carrier current radio station, which only allowed the radio to cover a small area around the university. In 1977, the push started for WXOU to get its own FM signal, but a variety of obstacles and roadblocks like lack of funding and administrative support stopped the station from growing out.

Finally, in 1991, Rob Kuron, the then general station manager for WXOU, met with the then Dean of Students, David Herman, and the Interim President John De Carlo, to create a proposal to send to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to get the radio station approved.

“A lot of people have worked hard for it [the FM license] and it’s nice to see that it’s all not wasted,” Kuron said.

The proposal was approved, and work began on converting WXOU to transmit on an FM signal. In September 1995, the station had finished its preparations for the new airwave, but tragedy struck right before they were set to go on the air.

A letter from the FCC told WXOU that they would not be able to broadcast because they were not in compliance with their proposal.

In the original proposal, WXOU indicated that the station would be located in the city of Oakland. This posed a problem for the station because the city of Oakland does not exist. Now WXOU has to go through the process of correcting the error. Not wanting to have to go through the process of waiting any more months, if not years, to get approved, the student radio station went about finding legal help to fight the FCC.

Along with trying to get a more permanent approval to broadcast, WXOU wanted to get a temporary waiver so that the $35,000 FM equipment could see some use.

“If we don’t get a waiver, then [all the FM equipment]is operational,” said Lee McPherson, WXOU’s program director at the time. “This whole process for one word, is really stupid.”

The station applied to the FCC to get a temporary waiver in late September 1995, and heard back only weeks later in early October 1995.

Once again, based on a technicality, WXOU’s dreams of broadcasting on an FM signal would be delayed.

The permit for the station to be able to temporarily broadcast was denied, with the main reason being the application was submitted on the wrong form. Along with this, the FCC denied the request for a petition of reconsideration, which also would have allowed WXOU to broadcast on an FM signal.

“Eventually, I have a definite feeling that we’ll be FM,” said McPherson, remaining cautiously optimistic.

McPherson was right. In 1997, WXOU was granted the FM signal 88.3 after 20 years of attempts.