Whoever thinks that radio is a dying format hasn’t recently listened to WMEB, the student radio station of the University of Maine that has been picking up steam over the past few years.
“What we’re really trying to do with the station is make sure that it’s something acceptable to everyone and make it so it’s appealing to everyone,” WMEB station manager Lauren Fleury said.
WMEB is a non-profit, student-run station, which allows the flexibility to offer types of programming that commercial radio stations cannot.
“It’s different because since it’s not commercial, there are no advertisements,” Fleury said, “and our priority is offering a vast amount of genres, plenty of different types of music for people to listen to so they can listen to WMEB and know they’re going to be listening to something they’re not going to hear [from] other places.”
Disk jockeys, all of whom are student volunteers, have free format shows and can “play whatever they want as long as they mind FCC guidelines, such as no profanity and whatnot,” Fleury said.
“The only stipulation we really have for them is playing bin CDs, which are a few CDs that are sent to us by promoters,” Fleury said. “So we track those songs and how often they’re played and submit top 30 charts to CMJ, which is College Music Journal. And that’s pretty much how we’re funded, because we promote that music.”
WMEB has various types of shows, like “Sports Show” with Cody Beckett on Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m., “Hostile” with Hayden Fresh, a metal show on Saturdays from 8 to 9 p.m., and an electro and hip-hop show called “Cirkiss” with Collin Spillane on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.
“We have various forms of indie music that are played. We have funk shows, tons of different stuff,” Fleury said.
According to Fleury, program director Nick Rucker is in charge of scheduling shows. Fleury works with Rucker and her staff to keep the station running smoothly.
“During [staff meetings] … we discuss general issues, station maintenance sort of things, equipment replacement when necessary and basically we try to all be on the same page,” Fleury said.
Fleury stressed that there are always openings available for students who might be interested in having their own show.
“It’s a pretty open thing,” Fleury said. “Anyone can do it. It’s just a matter of being able to pick a time during the week that you can attend consistently and host your show … Everybody should know they have to opportunity to do it and it’s a lot of fun.
Anybody interested in becoming a DJ needs to have a theme for their show and availability.
“DJs are people who are interested in having radio shows,” Fleury said. “They fill out an application, which we look over, and we see what kind of music they want to play, and we give them an opportunity to let us know their availability so they can choose a time slot, and we teach them how to use all the broadcast equipment in the studio.”
In addition to their on-air activity, WMEB has began spreading into the community by hosting local live music events, such as an open mic night at Woodman’s Bar and Grill every Wednesday at 10 p.m.
“I work at Woodman’s as well, so I talked with [owner Abe Furth] about potentially helping [with open mic night],” Fleury said. “He brings all the equipment and we help set it up, we promote it and my role is trying to make sure we have something consistent every week so people can come out and know there’s going to be at least one group or one artist that will be worth coming out to see.
“I’ve really been trying to pull in the local music scene here and encourage people to go out and share the music that they make, so I’ve been pulling bands from Bangor, Old Town, Orono and getting people excited about the live music scene,” she added.
WMEB has also helped book events at Kingman’s in Old Town, including the All Points North Music Festival that took place in April 2012. Although stressful, Fleury revealed that booking events is her favorite part of working at WMEB.
“It’s just really fun to reach out and have artists from elsewhere be able to come up and provide that for people who want to have a good time and dance and have some fun to good music,” Fleury said. “It’s stressful for me, but it’s also rewarding to be able to provide that for people.”
WMEB airs programs from as early as 7:30 a.m. to as late as 1 a.m., with plenty of open slots for aspiring DJs. In addition to its increasing on-air content, WMEB is establishing itself as an important player in local culture.
“We’re trying to build ties with the community that’s here so it actually has a presence in the university as well as the greater Bangor area,” Fleury said.