OPINION: WLJS 91.9 FM has drastically improved, program director says

Grant Davis, Special to the Chanticleer

My name is Grant Davis and I am the current program director for WLJS 91.9 FM, the official campus radio station of Jacksonville State University. Since taking over in May 2019, the radio station has undergone several changes both with our equipment and staff.

When I first took over, we didn’t have a computer to operate with so luckily the first thing we were able to do is get a brand new computer with the ENCO system which is a state of the art system. DJ’s can learn how to run a show properly and be prepared for the real world if they were to want to pursue a future in radio.

Other equipment upgrades we made were adding five new Shure SM7B microphones. I wanted to upgrade the microphones to give a more modern day podcast feel to the station. Shows like Joe Rogan and the Dale Jr. download podcast along with many other shows use these mics specifically so I thought it would be a good move to have these in the station. 

I also wanted to build a better online presence. Our following on Facebook was only at 1,200 followers, Instagram was at 130 followers and hadn’t been touched since 2017, and Twitter was non-existent. As of today, we have grown our Facebook page to over 3,000 new followers and our Instagram page is only a few followers away from 900. Twitter has grown from zero to over 140 new followers. Twitter is more for fun, rather than our main focus when it comes to our marketing strategy. We also created WLJS919.com which was setup by Pam Morgan (Thank ya Pam). 

An idea I had when gaining access to these social media accounts was to swap ownership over to the Communications Department rather than them being owned solely by the program director. Past passwords would get lost and each PD would have to start over. I want to pass everything on and keep the momentum building after I am gone. Having a great online presence is very helpful in being beneficial to ourselves, our patrons and to any partners including music festivals. 

In 2019, we had WLJS coverage at Bonnaroo and in 2020 we partnered with them for a ticket give away. We will also have a presence at the Bruno Major concert in Atlanta Georgia at the end of March. 

Our current staff is myself, our Music Director Ethan Weatherbee, Patrons Director Isaac Graham and Social Media Director Drew Harp. We also have students working their media workshop as social media workers to help our online brand. We purchased two DSLR cameras for WLJS so we could also have better quality photos for online. I am really proud of the strides we have made to improve our online presence and I hope to see it continue.

When it comes to shows, I spent a lot of my time last semester talking with students and helping get feedback on how to make good changes for the long run and also just helping them improve their shows. My friend Carson Bruce, who was the former Patron Director, started a video series that was serving as a way to show students how to make better shows, so I rolled with that idea and have been working on my own videos to build off the idea he started. We will have tips to improve your show videos on our YouTube page for students to reference back to if they ever need help.

Some new patrons we have are AmStar 12 Cinemas, Olive Garden, Papa John’s, The Factory, Mad Hatter’s Cupcakes, Harp & Clover, Vendetta Italian Restaurant, Jimmy John’s, Calhoun Steakhouse, Gy6 apparel and Isshin Asian Cafe. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of food for fun giveaways for our students on campus and people in the community. I am very thankful for all of our patrons.

Lastly, I would just like to say I am doing my best to represent Jacksonville State University as a leader and to represent WLJS the best I can. We have proudly renamed the studio “The 92J Studio” to honor the alumni who originally started the station back in September 1975: Mike Sandefer, Walt Moreland, Bob Waldrep, Dav Driscoll, Larry Hughes and John Turner. 

We are currently working to get a new sign for the station door with the current logo and a throwback logo as well to honor the past. Plans have already begun working towards a 45th anniversary for the fall of 2020 as well. 

In such a short amount of time, we have spent around $16,000 on improvements to the station, grown our social media substantially and have improved our on air quality. I would like to thank Mr. Stedham, Dr. McGrail, Mrs. Roper, Pam Morgan, Mrs. Davis, Christian Webb, Emily Sigmon, Ethan Weatherbee, Isaac Graham, Drew Harp, Sydni Fowler, Troydell Odom, Angelica Butine, Heather Jenkins, Kevin Young, Kyle Cornelius, Jada Hester, Mike Sandefer, our friends at The Chanticleer, Billy Ramsey and Ted White. Their help has made all these changes possible.

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