College radio connects community remotely throughout pandemic
CLEVELAND, OH (March 29, 2021)– Broadcasting is certainly not the only industry that suffered
setbacks during the coronavirus pandemic, however college radio station WRUW-FM 91.1 on
the campus of Case Western Reserve University never missed a beat. Unable to broadcast from
their studios, through quick-thinking and new custom-built automation, the all-volunteer staff of
students and community members were able to produce new content from home.
WRUW-FM has been a fixture on the Cleveland airwaves since 1967. In 2002, the station
increased its broadcast strength to 15,000 watts, making it a contender with stations like
WMMS and more recently, WENZ. People tune in to hear niche genres and personalities such as
Jim Szabo of Down By The Cuyahoga, which he has hosted for the last 47 years, and this year
was no exception. Without the financial support of listeners, WRUW would have been eerily
quiet during one of the most important moments in history.
During a year that made disparities between those with internet access and those without even
more apparent, WRUW continued to provide music, news, and information about free resources
to the Cleveland community without needing a subscription to stream. Independent venues,
movie theaters, and other cultural programming were hit hard by closures and regulations, yet
new music produced locally, nationally, and internationally found a place to be heard on the left
end of the dial.
Public affairs programs like LGBTQ+ focused Gaywaves, Voices and Choices, It’s About Justice,
Defend Cleveland, and even local-music showcase Live From Cleveland, pivoted to provide
updated coverage on pandemic-related issues such as financial assistance for those in the
performing arts industry, remote learning, and ways that COVID-19 disproportionately affects
minorities and people of color.
Programmers were also a familiar voice for hundreds of isolated weekly listeners craving a
sense of companionship during a lonely time. “The most gratifying year of programming at
WRUW has been during the pandemic,” says Brandt Fundak, host of Cream of Broccoli Radio
Hour. “I’ve heard from a number of listeners who have told me that they appreciate what WRUW
programmers have been doing to keep one small bit of normalcy in their lives.”
WRUW-FM’s annual Telethon was cancelled in 2020 in the hopes of redirecting financial support
to nonprofit organizations who were in need. After two years of putting all fundraising on hold,
the radio station will host their pledge drive from April 5 thru April 11 to raise the nearly $65k
needed to fund their yearly operating budget and equipment to continue remote broadcasting
and return to the studio in late 2021. Donations can be given online at telethon.wruw.org.