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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


The LION 90.7fm Finds Support From The Daily Collegian

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared on the website of “Safeguarding Traditions Of Penn State,” which was the precursor to Safeguard Old State. It appears here for posterity.

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The LION 90.7fm (WKPS) has struggled for funding ever since Dr. Triponey cut all Student Affairs monies to the station – totaling $25,000 – three years ago. The recently heavily documented story of our quest for funding has been gaining traction, finally, and yesterday the editors at The Daily Collegian published a ringing endorsement of student radio at Penn State.

Entitled, “Radio station funding: UPAC should support WKPS-FM radio“, the official editorial slams the university for its failure to commit to supporting Penn State’s student-run, FCC-licensed radio station. This past week the Collegian has been run a number of stories on The Lion, and today’s editorial really brings the point of those articles home for Penn State students, alumni and administrators.

“Apparently funding intramural sports,” say the editors, “is more important than funding a 50-year-old Penn State tradition that is on the verge of going off the air. The financial director for The Lion WKPS-FM (90.7) asked the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC) last week for more funding to be able to cover the station’s operating budget. The student-run campus radio station received $1,800 from UPAC. However, The Lion’s financial director Tom Shakely insists this is not enough.”

I asserted that $1,800 wouldn’t be enough at the first meeting of the Student Activity Fee Board (SAFB), but it wasn’t until the second meeting of the board, headed by Dr. Triponey, the our radio station’s concerns were really addressed. As an FCC-licensed radio station, The Lion requires a significant financial investment by the university – administrators knew this when they granted our application for an FCC license in 1995. Typically, the station costs anywhere from $14,000 to $25,000 to operate yearly – and those numbers are bare minimum just to allow us to replace failing equipment.

“When addressing his concerns, Vicky Triponey, vice president for student affairs, said physical fitness is more of a priority right now and more funding needs to be allocated or IM sports. So pretty much tough luck for Shakely and the rest of the Lion team. Actually, tough luck to every student organization. The administration refusing to give enough funding for a student voice organization sets a scary precedent.”

Although the editors at The Daily Collegian can’t really say it outright, the reason for our lack of funding is well known to both student officers at our radio station as well as Dr. Triponey: she doesn’t like our administration-critical public affairs talk show, Radio Free Penn State (weekdays, 5-6PM). She also doesn’t like the fact that she doesn’t control us.

“The Lion isn’t just your average radio station. It is a station fully run by students and for the students. It shows a focus on issues important to all Penn Staters. But it is not just their operation that is important — it provides another educational opportunity for the students who work at the Lion. They work for a live radio station that thousands of people can listen to while driving, cleaning their rooms or working out.”

That The Lion is truly student-run is one of its most startling realities, considering its high quality programming and usually high market share among most college radio stations. We devote the equivalent of full-time hours to ensuring that The Lion not only continues to broadcast, but that it has the best quality content. Are we paid? No. We do it because we love it (but some stipend sure would be nice).
“The university can argue that ComRadio is the university’s radio station where students could gain the same experience. Au contraire. ComRadio is an online-based radio station. Therefore, people can only listen to it if they go online. But the Lion can actually be heard on FM-radio and has the potential to attract a larger audience because of this.”

I’m really proud of the editors at The Daily Collegian for hitting on ComRadio and its inadequate offering to Penn State students. The Lion 90.7FM provides everything ComRadio does and far more – not only is The Lion actually student-run, but we allow kids of any major, not just communications, to be a part of our station. You can listen online and on the radio.

“The College of Communications shouldn’t allow this to happen. They should be encouraging the rest of the administrators to support an organization that gives students real-world experiences. If IM sports are really in such bad shape and UPAC can’t give any more funding to The Lion, then where are the College of Communications alumni to help out? Stop donating money to flower gardens, and help this student organization stay on the air.”

Absolutely. Where is our support from the College of Communications alumni? Oh, that’s right. Their money is being quietly diverted to WPSU, right? Too bad for WKPS, I guess.

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