By Matthew Sotlar
Youngstown State University’s public radio station, 88.5 WYSU-FM, was celebrated in October for Support WYSU Month. All month was spent raising donations for the station’s Getting Together Fund Drive.
WYSU, which was founded in October 1969, is affiliated with National Public Radio. The station is listener-supported, commercial-free and runs 24/7. Associate Director of Broadcasting David Luscher said WYSU strives to provide free media for all of the Mahoning Valley.
“We’ve been here since 1969, and our primary mission is to provide the region with fine arts, music and information programming,” Luscher said.
At the end of October, WYSU raised over $120,000 in donations. Luscher said the amount is standard for the station.
Most of the music WYSU broadcasts is either jazz or classical. Some of these programs include, “Anytime Classical” and “The Jazz Sofa with Rick Popovich.” WYSU also provides NPR-based news analysis programs like, “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” Its music library is home to over 15,000 CDs and vinyl records.
Several Youngstown-based programs are aired at WYSU, including a local politics program hosted by YSU English professor Timothy Francisco and “Doing Good,” a local public awareness program.
WYSU’s station is located in Melnick Hall. Alongside the broadcasting team, Luscher said it also hires YSU student assistants.
“We employ a lot of students here. We post our job positions through Student Life. Anytime they see that posting, just fill out that application,” Luscher said.
To support the station, WYSU hosted its annual Getting Together Fund Drive. Luscher said drives are held to help fundraise for the station.
“Twice a year, we have fund drives. We’ve been doing this since the station signed on the air. Listeners contribute to the station to help pay for our programming cost,” Luscher said.
WYSU, like NPR, is a nonprofit media organization. Luscher said all donations are used to support the station.
“In noncommercial radio, we’re allowed to accept donations. Those donations go to pay for our broadcast rights fees and our affiliation fees. Every program that we air that is produced by the network, we have to pay for upfront,” Luscher said.
WYSU has also hosted a number of celebrities on the air in its 54 years. Luscher said that most guest speakers at YSU tend to appear on the air for an interview.
“We’ve had Governor Mario Cuomo [and] Bob Woodward. Anytime someone is coming through the university, like the Skeggs Lectures Series, they usually stop by for an interview. We’ve had a lot of famous musicians that have stopped by to be on the air. Over 50 years, it’s hard to name everybody,” Luscher said.
On average, WYSU brings in around 25,000 to 30,000 listeners per week in the Mahoning Valley region. According to Nielsen Media Research, WYSU is the 8th most popular station in the Youngstown-Warren area.