Wheaton considering sale of WETN radio & TV station
WETN, Wheaton College’s television and radio station, is considering the possibility of selling its broadcasting license due to under-utilization.
“At present, we are focusing exclusively on the possibility of a sale,” said Dale Kemp, vice president for finance and treasurer at the college.
The station has found that as digital technology continues to advance, the value of the radio and television medium to students has fallen, according to Kemp.
WETN has already shifted much of its content to more updated formats, including live-streaming sports and chapel, and posting Conservatory and academic events on Youtube. The college has also adapted to the ever-changing media world, creating the #myWheaton blog, an Instagram account, Twitter account and Facebook page all within the past decade. Kemp said this shift has been “well received” by students and faculty.
A July 2016 study by MarketingCharts stated that “in the space of five years, almost 40 percent of [millennials’] traditional TV viewing time has migrated to other activities or streaming.”
The Pew Research Center notes that radio listening, too, has moved online media consumption “rapidly into the consumer mainstream.”
The station must now find the most effective way of utilizing resources and finances to better cater to changing demands.
WETN radio is a 250-watt FM directional radio station that spans a 15-mile radius around campus and is currently overseen by the Board of Trustees. From its conception in 1947 until the late 1990s and early 2000s, the communication department and instruction media department used WETN as a means for students to gain experience in broadcasting before entering the professional world. However, the focus quickly shifted to training students in marketing for the college through live venue events, chapel broadcasting, athletic coverage and other promotional coverage.
WETN-FM now has limited programming, including live broadcast audio of several local church services on Sundays. All chapel broadcasts, conservatory concerts and athletic events are now exclusively online.
If the license is sold, the current BGC office space will house an Academic and Institutional Technology group. This group would include employees from the Enterprise Application and Infrastructure and Information Security groups currently in Jenks Hall, the Teaching Learning and Research team, AIT administration, CIO and Smart Classroom support groups. The Chatlos television studio would remain the same, with a few minor changes to the control room location. The consolidation of these AIT groups would “create a culture focused on efficiency, excellence, process improvement and teamwork,” Kemp said.
No binding agreements have been reached, though the administration hopes to have more information at the close of the semester.