New antenna allows WSKB to broaden its reach
WSKB radio is an integral part of campus life, and now, thanks to the strong community interest in improving its antenna signal, it can become an integral part of Westfield and the surrounding Pioneer Valley as well.
For the past 15 years, WSKB has been trying to improve its antenna and the signal that it produces. Previously, the signal didn’t extend to the outer limits of the city of Westfield, even though it is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to have a much broader reach.
The new tower, which cost $40,000, now allows WSKB programming to be heard far beyond Westfield. This means WSKB can serve as an emergency notification system during crises, produce more radio shows and attract community members and political leaders to appear on the station.
“It’s important, if you’re going to develop community programming, that it actually goes out over the airwaves and not just over the Internet,” said Dr. Filas, the faculty advisor to WSKB.
General Manager Evan Crimmins ’14 says that he could hear the station about 20 miles away from campus while he was driving in Connecticut.
Brent Bean, Government and Corporate Relations Director, became involved in the project when the Westfield city government and the president’s office on campus began to push harder for the antenna’s upgrade. He said the University hopes that the upgrade will create a partnership with the city and draw elected officials and others to being on the air at WSKB.
He said the mayor of Westfield is excited about the new opportunities this will bring to the city.
“This is the perfect opportunity to get our message out,” says Bean, noting a wider audience could mean more participation and sponsorships.
He adds that the stronger antenna signal will give student deejays an enhanced experience, because the pool of listeners will be so much larger. “I think the group deserves this,” he says. “We have a very talented group of individuals that are leading the station here on campus.”
Crimmins, as well, thinks that the students involved in the station will benefit from the more powerful signal. “They’re really excited about it,” he says, noting that the antenna has boosted the executive board’s morale and attracted new student members; next year’s executive board has 13 members, up from 11 this year.
Crimmins also believes that the stronger signal will attract more deejays to the station.
Everyone involved hopes that WSKB can continue to grow. Bean hopes for a downtown radio station storefront, but right now, the focus is on the on-campus activities. He says, “We’re leaving it up to the students, and they’ve done a great job so far.”