University's WUMD officially off the air, streamed online

Jun 26, 2017

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s WUMD radio station officially went off the air as of noon on June 26, following 42 years of broadcasting.

The sign-off signals the university’s 9,800-watt Federal Communications Commission license transfer of 89.3 FM to Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR). The collaboration will bring $1.5 million of need-based financial aid to students, expand local public service journalism to southeastern Massachusetts, and develop WUMD as an online college station, according to university officials.

WUMD has moved its programming online to www.wumd.rocks. Most of the programming being featured on WUMD will continue online, and the station has plans for new programming once students return in the fall, said university officials. RIPR will begin broadcasting on 89.3 FM in the coming days while continuing to broadcast on 88.1, 91.5, and 102.7.

“This is day one of a friendship that will enrich the lives of UMass Dartmouth students and the region for generations to come,” said Interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm via news release. “I also want to pay tribute to the past and current students, alumni, and community members who raised WUMD from a 10-watt station into a 10,000-watt powerhouse of musical passion and innovation.”

Under the terms of the collaboration, UMass Dartmouth has received $1.5 million in cash from RIPR to endow need-based financial aid and community engagement programs, said university officials. The university will announce details of these programs at a later date. The university will also receive $617,100 in underwriting time on the RIPR network and additional on-air promotion over the next 10 years.

In addition, UMass Dartmouth and RIPR will collaborate on a series of academic and community engagement activities, including internships and public forums, said officials. These initiatives will be designed to support RIPR’s local public service journalism mission while creating media-related learning opportunities for UMass Dartmouth students.

RIPR will make 89.3 FM its primary signal by relocating the transmitter to Tiverton and enhancing 89.3 FM’s power within FCC-allowed limits. This will double RIPR’s geographical footprint, and allow 89.3 FM to reach most of its Rhode Island audience with one signal. Communities along the East Bay and the middle of Rhode Island will be able to hear the signal in a way that has not been possible with the station’s current array, said officials.

RIPR’s signal will reach roughly two-thirds of southeastern Massachusetts, extending north of Taunton and east of New Bedford. This will allow the station to serve a broader audience and report on matters of interest to the region, officials said.

The collaboration also provides for South Coast representation on the RIPR Board of Directors and RIPR’s Community Advisory Board. Preference will be given to individuals residing in the Dartmouth-New Bedford-Fall River areas, officials said.

In addition, RIPR will provide two internships for qualified students during the fall and spring semesters, and the UMass Dartmouth Graduate Professional Writing Program plans to provide a graduate assistant to RIPR, officials said. UMass Dartmouth and RIPR will also collaborate on the development journalism-related experiential learning classes.

The university has also committed to invest $25,000 in modernization of radio station equipment, officials said.

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