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 Local News  -   Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brenau's 89.1 set to ramp up programs

The Times

Tom Reed The Times

Scott Fugate plays music in the studio of WBCX-FM 89.1, the Brenau University radio station. The station soon will feature more locally produced programming.

Eclectic 89.1-FM

Volunteers are needed to fill 24 hours of local programming daily on WBCX-FM 89.1, Brenau University's radio station. Contact general manager and programming director Scott Fugate at (770) 538-4744.

Brenau University's WBCX 89.1-FM is in the midst of installing new equipment and updating its format to include more live and local programming.

But the change came at a hefty price.

After years of playing preprogrammed smooth jazz and classical music, the station's computer system and satellite equipment quit working, preventing show hosts from recording material in advance and halting reception of the station's smooth jazz provider. "The computer broke before Thanksgiving and we've had local programming since then," said Scott Fugate, station program manager and general manager.

Fugate says that it was sad to see the equipment fail but the end result was a lucky break. The new equipment will enable more prerecorded local programming moving forward.

"It was a good thing because we are getting all new stuff," Fugate said. "It was bad to see everything happen but it was a blessing in disguise."

A transition to more local programming at the station has been under way for the past two years, with 45 new shows premiering. WBCX historically has aired preprogrammed smooth jazz and classical music.

"In the future we are going to be live and local 24 hours a day," Fugate said of WBCX, which will celebrate it's 30th year in operation in 2007.

Equipment is expected to be in place by Wednesday, but plans don't stop with the station's FM stereo signal.

Fugate expects to provide live streaming audio on the Internet, as well as podcasts, the new Internet sensation used to download audio online.

Tasheka World, a junior at Brenau and three-year station veteran, is excited about the changes. She is co-operations manager and co-student manager for WBCX.

"It is going to be easier for me because I'm really the only student helping," World said. "It also will be a lot quicker to record a show; you don't have to do it in real time."

World says even with the new system she will stay at her post as co-host on Jodine's Corner, a part of the Soulful Saturdays lineup where she plays neo soul and old school R&B.

"I had my show in the past. I prefer to help other people that come in to the studio," said World, who is working on a mass communications degree with a concentration in broadcasting.

Fugate says the most important thing to the station at this point is to have community and student involvement.

"We want the station to run with all local volunteer and all community members or from Brenau," Fugate said. "We are looking for people that want to share music with the community.

"I'll train anyone. I'm looking for DJs for one to two hours a week to play whatever music they are passionate about."

Even with the new technology, Fugate still wants to keep the stress on jazz and classical music.

"Our focus will be an alternative mix of music rarely featured on commercial radio stations," Fugate said.

The road to a totally local station will take a while but Brenau and Fugate are ready for the challenge.

"We will make slow changes along the way until the 24 hours is filled up," Fugate said. "Right now we have 18 hours of canned music and six hours local.

"We are giving the station back to the community."

Contact: amckinney@gainesvilletimes.com, (770) 718-3414.

Originally published Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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