Group forms in hopes of saving UE’s radio station WUEV

Local News

It’s been a broadcast staple since the early 1950’s but now there’s concerns the on air light at the University of Evansville’s radio station could go dark.

Current and former UE students are banding together in an effort to keep the university from selling WUEV, the campus radio station.

University officials told Eyewitness News they have not agreed to sell the station, but they did not rule it out either.

It’s because of that uncertainty a group of concerned students and alumni met on campus Tuesday inside the radio station they’re fighting to save.
“Without that I would definitely not be where I am today,” said UE Junior Zachary Barnett.

Barnett is worried about losing his gig of two and a half years and the experience of broadcasting on air and online that comes with it.

“I have a pretty big cult following,” said Barnett. “I have followers all the way down to Florida, Arkansas, several in California. My name’s pretty big along the Midwest, just because people know DJ Chunky Butta.”

Barnett is one of about six students working to broadcast jazz by day and alternative by night.

“That radio station is such a signature sound, there’s not really any other jazz station in the city,” said UE Junior Clay Stenbergen. “It’s something that’s unique and makes it special.”

“It taught me how to communicate,” said UE alum Tom Fischer.

Before Fischer founded the Bourbon Blog, he hosted a talk show on WUEV, his college radio station.

“It helped me out a lot,” said Fischer. “If it hadn’t been for WUEV, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

Which is why Fishcer said he walked into the president’s office on campus Tuesday trying to find out if it’s true that the university is looking to sell WUEV’s license to operate.

“He confirmed it was true,” said Fischer. “I don’t know if he’ll confirm it on camera, but he said, ‘Look you need to tell the alumni, the supporters, the students to let us know as soon as possible how they feel about it.”

Fischer is now lending his voice in hopes of saving what is known as “Evansville’s radio station.”

“I don’t think there’s many people – educators, community, that would want to see this taken away from the students,” said Fischer. “So I don’t know why the university of all people, of all groups of people, would say ‘Hey, let’s consider selling this.’ I don’t think it’s right.”

Ironically, the radio station is not part of the school’s communications department and hasn’t been for nearly 20 years.

It’s overseen by university marketing.

Officials in that office told Eyewitness News that a decision on the future of the radio station will be made after careful consideration of the university’s needs.

In the meantime, a Facebook page has been created to help save the station.

You can visit that page here.

Full statement from the University of Evansville:

“The University greatly appreciates the public’s support of UE’s station, WUEV. The station has long been an asset to the local community and has provided many of our students with valuable experience over the years. It is true that, like all institutions, the University has to continually assess its programs, including possible asset reallocation. However, we have not officially entered into an agreement to sell WUEV at this time. A decision on the future of WUEV will be made after careful consideration of the needs and the mission of the institution including all of its programs both curricular and non-curricular.“

Dr. Shane Davidson, Vice President for Enrollment & Marketing

UPDATE: Some alumni and students alleged UE is censoring those who broadcast music on the campus station by asking student DJs to not speak to the media regarding this story.

We received the following response from Dr. Shane Davidson, Vice President for Enrollment & Marketing at UE:

“The University continues to appreciate the passion and support of WUEV expressed by the public.  The University, now as in the past, will continue to evaluate all of its options in light of our educational programming and in the best interests overall for the institution.  It is business as usual for WUEV at this time.
In regards to “concern of censorship” from the WUEV GM to staff and volunteers, that is absolutely not the case.  The message intent is to be respectful of the University’s processes and procedures as it relates to the University educational experience and programs.  While healthy dialogue is encouraged, it is important for the learning process that a balanced representation of any issue (or view) is provided.  We want our student and volunteer DJs and producers to continue quality music programming for our listeners.  Should there be any change in the status of WUEV, communication will occur through the appropriate formats.”

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(This story was originally published on September 4, 2018) 

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