Although students tend to associate WOBC with its broad range of playlists, Oberlin’s radio station is working this year to reach out to the community by increasing accessibility and self-generating news broadcasts.
“We have always been involved and interested in community, but we wanted to prioritize that dialogue and try to see how we can do more,” said College senior Jesse Montgomery, the station manager at WOBC.
“There’s about 30 programs that stem from or have some connection with community,” said College senior and program director Max Rivlin-Nadler.
The station’s efforts include putting up more posters around town and holding special outreach information ses- sions at a variety of locations, including the Oberlin Public Library. “We are a federally-mandated College and community radio, so we are holding up our end of the bargain, but half the battle is just getting the information out there,” said Rivlin-Nadler.
Although the station continues to have mostly music-oriented content, there are roughly 15 talk shows this semester. “It changes from year to year, in terms of original content, but we are getting some really special applications this year,” said Rivlin-Nadler.
Some community-oriented talk shows include Connections, a talk show about current events hosted by the Lorain County Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Hope House Radio, a show that travels to the Gathering Hope House Mental Health Facility in Lorain and helps its outpatients record a radio show that is later broadcast at the station.
Another new show is Talk Oberlin. According to Rivlin-Nadler, “Talk Oberlin [is a show] we’re really happy with. They do commentary on local news coverage and bring in professors to talk about news,” Rivlin-Nadler said.
The station also reaches out to younger members of the community. According to Rivlin-Nadler, 11-year-old Joey Cruz, host of Timubuk2’s TimbukTu, joined WOBC after attending an outreach meeting at the Public Library.
Other major changes include the new WOBC website, which launched on Dec. 1 and has the capacity to host original student content. This has led to the creation of a new Practicum in Journalism program starting this spring that will allow students to report for WOBC shows and get school credit.
“A lot of the stuff we would like to see, like local news issues being addressed, can be very daunting. We would really like to be able to offer the incentive of college credit to say, ‘We really respect and value the amount of work you are putting into this,’” said Montgomery.
Although the station is usually seen as student run, non- students are important to the station as well. “Community members are the core of WOBC, in the sense that we come here four years and then we are gone,” said Rivlin-Nadler.
“In all manner of administration: in staff positions, traffic directors, genre directors, straight up to an interim board, we have community involvement. … [Community members make up] a lot of the holdovers, who really create the sense of community and continuity in the station,” said Montgomery.