Sometimes, answering the phone pays off.
Kimera Way, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president, said she usually makes the calls that land donations for the university. But a phone call last December from Mid-West Family Broadcasting has netted the university a $1 million gift in the form of a radio station.
“We are excited to be a part of this because the radio capacity will enable the university as a whole,” Way said. “I’m pleased to be able to facilitate the addition of another resource for the university’s benefit.”
The gift includes a radio license, transmitter and tower along with broadcast equipment for the operation of the commercial station 99.9 WDRK-FM.
Blugold LLC, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, will own and operate the station, which will serve as the official radio presence for Blugold athletics, Way said.
“The 99.9 WDRK-FM signal will give Blugold athletics a large radio reach in the Chippewa Valley and a great enhancement to the Blugold sports network of digital, web, radio and TV media platforms,” UW-Eau Claire Athletic Director Dan Schumacher said.
Campus officials also said the station will expand hands-on educational experience for students while creating new avenues for the university to reach a broader audience.
“For students in communication and journalism, it is important to be familiar with different types of programming,” Mary Hoffman, chair of the communication and journalism department, said. “We can integrate the radio station into course assignments and bring a new style of programming to the community.”
Blugold Radio would also showcase Eau Claire’s indie-rock music scene and UW-Eau Claire musicians, Way said. Blugold Radio is expected to be up and running by the end of the 2016 school year.
The station, 99.9 WDRK, is currently operating under a commercial license, but Blugold Radio is applying for a non-commercial license which will aid in increasing collaborations with Wisconsin Public Radio, Blugold athletics and UW-Eau Claire, Way said. The process of transferring station ownership to Blugold Radio is expected to be completed by July 1.
“We are very excited to see students develop their talents and possibly enter the vibrant broadcast industry in the future,” said Lynn Bieritz, general manager of Mid-West Family
Broadcasting in Eau Claire. “We are excited about what lies ahead for UW-Eau Claire and for the future of radio.”
The addition of the radio station also will allow the communication and journalism department to increase options for students.
“The gift will enable us to provide high-impact applied learning for students in journalism and integrated strategic communication majors and minors, and our multimedia minor,” Hoffman said. “We are most grateful for the opportunities presented by this gift.”