Between Emerson’s two radio stations, students at the college have the chance to have their voice heard by millions of listeners. For the first time next year, the skills for a career in radio will only be offered through a minor, not within a major.
Starting in the fall, the college will offer a radio minor for students interested in the discipline, replacing its previous radio concentration within the visual and media arts major. Emerson stopped offering that concentration to new students last semester, according to a previous Beacon report.
“There will be several courses available to students, such as marketing, sales and promotions, vocal presentation for media and broadcast, radio journalism, and business of broadcasting,” said Jack Casey, the general manager of WERS, Emerson’s student-run public radio station. “The courses cover different areas of radio, because we want to help students develop specific skills and succeed in the business.”
Students are currently able to participate in radio through WERS and WECB, an online station. Casey said that students hold almost all of the responsibilities of running these stations.
“At WERS, we have 12 paid student managers who act as program directors, music directors, and web editors,” Casey said. “Aside from them, there are about 80 volunteers who act as DJs and newscasters. WECB also has many volunteers who are able to design their own programs. The stations allow them to identify the real jobs they would be doing outside of Emerson.”
Because of the high level of work put in at the radio stations, Casey said he believes these students will be interested in the radio minor.
Emma-Jean Weinstein, a senior visual and media arts major, agreed.
“I started at WERS as a sophomore, hosting a Jewish music show,” Weinstein said. “I later got a job reporting, producing, and overseeing the reporting for a program called ‘You Are Here.’ I no longer work at WERS because I’m doing an internship, but I enjoyed my time there. I feel like I’m four years too late for this radio minor.”
According to William Gilligan, interest among students in radio has fluctuated over time.
“Twenty years ago, there used to be a couple hundred students in the visual and media arts department who majored in radio,” said Gilligan, vice president of information technology. “A number of factors went into the major’s decline.”
Casey added that the decline in jobs in the radio industry could have contributed to the closing of the concentration.
Due to the climate change in the radio industry, the college chose to end the major.
“It was a decision made by the visual and media arts department,” Casey said. “I imagine it was due to fewer jobs than in decades past. But broadcast journalism is having a bad time as well, so I’m not sure why the decision was made to only phase out radio.”
Despite this, both Casey and Gilligan said they are confident that the new minor will attract a large audience.
“People used to predict the death of television,” Gilligan said. “But TV isn’t going anywhere. It’s the same with radio. Radio isn’t going anywhere. It’s just changing.”