Sunday, August 06, 2000

Miami's WMUB celebrates 50 years

Students, faculty remember the magic

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — When WMUB Radio started broadcasting 50 years ago, there were few if any talk radio stations, Top 40 formats, “shock jocks” or corporate radio empires.

[photo] Cleve Callison, WMUB radio station manager, in the WMUB studio.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        “The station was set up as a laboratory with faculty advisers, and the students ran it,” general manager Cleve Callison said. “They also did some programming for WLW, WMOH and WPFB. One thing that distinguishes this station from other university stations is that we're still a teaching facility.”

        As it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, WMUB — at 88.5, the Miami University FM radio station — sounds like any big-city station. It features National Public Radio (NPR) programs as well as well-received local programs such as Phyllis Campbell's Mama Jazz show.

        “Over the years, Mama Jazz has had an interesting relationship with the stu dents,” Mr. Callison said. “They learn so much about the music and the musicians. They might not come in here knowing a lot about jazz, but they leave with a wealth of knowledge.”

        Mr. Callison, a former English teacher, came to WMUB from a college radio station in Winston-Salem, N.C. He is happy that he moved.

        “Up here, it's a much more competitive environment,” he said. “Our task is not to duplicate. We have to think: What kind of schedule can we have that will bring integrity?

        “We no longer appeal to a tiny audience on campus. We're reaching 20,000 to 30,000 people in the area. They have no connection to the university, except that they listen to us.”

        In the studio halls, the walls are lined with computer-printed narratives sent in by former students who worked for WMUB and its predecessor, WRMU. Mr. Callison has posted the comments on the station's Inter net site,

        This year, WMUB exceeded its goal of raising $50,000 in honor of the 50th anniversary — it raised $53,000.

        The money will help support programming at the station, which uses nine full-time employees and 20 students each semester.

        When Mr. Callison arrived three years ago, he tinkered with the station's format to offer a mixture of talk in the daytime and music at night.

        “I think the station has evolved over the years,” he said. “It has moved gradually into greater professionalism. This has paralleled the growth of public radio nationally. Now, you're more likely to hear a full-time staff member here, but we still put a lot of students on the air.”

        They include Aaron Alpern of Buffalo, who graduated this spring. At WMUB, he reported on the visits of presidential candidates and contributed spots to NPR. Another student, Jingyu Shan of China, prepared daily reports for Ohio Public Radio and wrote news.

        Student involvement has been a Miami radio tradition since the days of legendary speech professor Hortense Moore, who “gave us opportunities to create, produce and perform,” said Jo Vernotzy of Treasure Island, Fla., the student radio manager in 1950-1951.

        “Marty McLean and I even did a play-by-play of our girls' basketball competition from Heron Hall.”


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