This Monday at 6 a.m., radios tuned to 560 on the AM dial on the George Mason University Campus will pick up the song "Time Won't Let Me" by The Outsiders. And just like that, the first broadcast of student radio station WGMU will be under way.
After several years in the planning stages, WGMU, which wiLLl be audible only on campus, is on the verge of becoming a reality, thanks to the donation of much technical assistance, equipment, money and time, student organizers said.
"It's just been magnificent. All this done on such a shoestring budget," said Warren Yeager, one of 40 student disc jockeys, who will be spinning the first record.
Faculty adviser Daniel Rainey explained that the station got its initial donation of $3,000 from the university, which currently has about 15,000 full- and part-time students.
"That got us a bare room and electrical outlets," he said, laughing. "It wouldn't even come close to buying one air studio."
But Rainey said the university has agreed to be more supportive if the station shows signs of success.
The biggest contribution was a $15,000 grant by James E. Reeve, a local businessman, made in memory of his father, Earl D. Reeve, a ham radio enthusiast.
"Earl was involved in radio technology very eary on," explained news director Mike Stafford, a communications major at the university. "He just loved radio and inspired his son."
Although the organizers never expect the radio station to be self-supporting, they do hope to meet a portion of the costs through advertising sales.
"The ad rates have just been set," said Rainey, who explained that the station will approach businesses the students support, such as pizza parlors and pubs.
In time he hopes ads will pay for 25 percent of the station's operating costs.
Though the communication department has been the main organizer, every department on campus will be encouraged to participate.
"We're here to serve the entire George Mason University," said station manager Frank Doherty, another student. "We're inviting other departments to produce shows."
If the number of volunteers is indicative of enthusiasm, then WGMU is off to a good start. In addition to the 40 students who signed up to be disc jockeys, five have signed up as reporters.
There are no immediate plans to expand the station's raange beyond the campus, Rainey said. "I have really mixed opinions," he said. "If someone goes on the air without experience and makes a mistake, it's only heard on the campus. If we go off the campus we have to worry about quality."
"Our main goal is to train broadcasters," Doherty explained. Students with experience will work with those who have never broadcast before, he said.
For the news department, Stafford explained, "We have the AP [Associated Press] audio wire, and then we'll have our own reporters getting George Mason news."
Playing off the station's location at 560 on the AM dial, Stafford said he is planning to have 56-second-long reports every hours, with four-minute reports three times a day, at 7:56 and 11:56 a.m. and 6:56 p.m.
WGMU will do its own broadcasting from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends. Stafford has arranged to hook up WGMU to WTOP Radio during the off hours so that when WGMU goes off the air, the Larry King Show will come on.