25 years of WMSV: Community station evolves over time

Computer science senior and on-air radio personality Michael Garlotte broadcasts to the students of MSU.

91.1 WMSV, Mississippi State University's radio station, celebrated a significant anniversary on March 21. WMSV is 25 years old, and to celebrate those cherished years of broadcasting, the station has planned something big for the fall of 2019: a festival and concert.

In the meantime, WMSV will sell shirts in the Colvard Student Union, holding live streams and covering the Old Main Music Fest this semester.

“We will be live streaming a few different contests, selling new merch, just having fun conversations and commentating, as well as interviewing some people about their experiences with WMSV,” said Rob Butler, the station’s head of social media and marketing.

Butler said he has worked with WMSV for a year and a half. He also hosts a country music hour at 11 a.m. every Saturday.

WMSV is a noncommercial, community station that programs a Triple A Music format, meaning it plays artists like Dave Matthews, The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons and The Killers. Its audience ranges from people ages 18 to 50.

WSMV began in the early 1990s when students at MSU petitioned the university to build and operate a radio station on campus.

“The university agreed to build a new station and tasked MSU staff member Steve Ellis to create the station,” said Anthony Craven, the current WMSV general manager. “WMSV, 91.1 FM went on the air March 21, 1994 at 6 a.m. with Steve Ellis as GM and with a team of student volunteers serving as the on-air personalities. Steve served as GM of WMSV until he retired in 2015.”

In order to stay relevant, WMSV has evolved with the times in many ways throughout its 25 years.

“Local radio broadcasters like WMSV 91.1 must continually develop and invest in new technologies that allow us to provide the news, entertainment and emergency information listeners rely on every day,” Craven said. “We make our broadcast easily available online through our website, wmsv.msstate.edu, and via apps like TuneIn, RadioFX and MSU’s MyState mobile app. By doing this we can be heard anywhere at anytime on essentially every platform—including smart speakers like Alexa. Through innovation, local broadcasters such as WMSV are keeping communities safe, informed and entertained. That is how radio stays relevant.”

Listeners will likely see and hear more from the station in the upcoming year according to Butler.

“We are in the process of revamping activities and community involvement, and trying to make it more inclusive physically and connected in greater ways starting next semester,” Butler said.

As for the big event coming next fall, many of the details are yet to be confirmed, but the station’s employees are excited all the same. WMSV’s 25th anniversary and welcome back concert/festival will be held the first Friday of the fall semester, which is Aug. 23.

“It will be a great way for freshmen to have something cool to experience, and will really connect the community of Starkville with the MSU Campus,” Butler said. “It will be held in the Amphitheater and will have a lot of different artists ranging from local acts to larger, national touring artists. There will be food, music and special little surprises throughout the night to highlight and honor WMSV's 25 years on the air.”

In order to help WMSV celebrate, check them out in the Union and listen to station 91.1 FM.

Emma Salter, a WMSV listener and MSU junior interior design major, said the station’s variety of music is what she likes most about it.

“It's important that we as students appreciate the culture our campus has to offer. I’m looking forward to see WMSV become more interactive with the campus,” Salter said. “The radio station has such a great variety of music for everyone, not just what's popular by Migos or Halsey. Hopefully this will bring more listeners to the station–they really do deserve the appreciation.”

If listeners are interested in becoming involved in other ways, Craven said there are plenty of opportunities for students through employment.

“Students can get involved with WMSV by simply coming by the station and talking to our staff about job, internship and volunteer opportunities,” Craven said. “All of our daily on-air DJ positions, as well as many other positions here at WMSV, are held by current Mississippi State University students.”

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