Campus radio station enters 35th year


Shakira Wray, senior Mass Communications Major and Drama Minor operates the radio station console. Wray is an intern for the school’s radio station, 91.3 WVST. She plans to go into the radio industry after she graduates this May. Wray covered the CIAA basketball game tournament and regular-season games. She also works behind the scenes in production and editing features. Photo by Anjel-Ali Ormond.

Anjel-Ali Ormond, Executive Editor

Do people still listen to the radio for news and entertainment in Petersburg, Virginia? If so, they may have stumbled across station 91.3 FM to find WVST-FM The Source Live from Virginia State University.

WVST began in July 1987, back when students didn’t have the option to study broadcasting or mass communications at Virginia State. This year will be its 35th year in operation.

Though the story is not clear on who exactly started the station, the station started out playing jazz. It is in the Multipurpose Center.

“[The founders] started it as a jazz station,” said WVST Program Director Jennifer Williamson. “It’s always had the primary format as contemporary jazz, and it still focuses on jazz today.”

Audiences can find various music, news, and sports entertainment. Listeners can even hear live reporting on VSU sports games. They can also expect to hear jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, from old-school tunes to the latest hits.

“Our music programming is a combination of contemporary jazz and R&B, which is kind of our signature blend,” said Williamson. “If you listen to the station all the way through you’ll be listening to jazz and R&B, then some old school songs from the 70s and 90s. Then it will slowly transition into the 90s and 2000s. And by the time you get to the 2010s, if you’re not done listening already, it transitions to today’s hits.”

The FCC-licensed station plays contemporary jazz from 6 AM to 6 PM on an average day. From 6 PM to 10 PM, the station plays more R&B or jazz with unique R&B vocals. Then from 10 PM to 2 AM during the week, slow jazz and R&B play overnight. From 2 AM to 4 AM, traditional jazz plays. From 4 AM to 6 AM every day is gospel music. The station plays old school mixes on Fridays and Saturday nights from 6 PM to 10 PM. Then hip-hop plays from 10 PM to 2 AM.

“The goal is to take you from the R&B and jazz to today’s hip–hop,” said Williamson. “So you’re not just being shocked by listening to jazz one second, then ‘Megan Thee Stallion’ the next second.”

Williamson has been at Virginia State for 26 years.

“My role as a program director is mainly controlling the sound over the air,” said Williamson. “Picking the music, programming the music in a specific order, making sure there is a playlist available to play every day, making sure that anything else that needs to play is a part of the playlist.”

She also trains the announcers (On-Air personalities) to speak on the air and supervises them.

“Working in a university means training people who have never done this before from the ground up,” said Williamson. “I train them, introduce them to radio, and grow them. I don’t just supervise them, but help them grow and develop their talent so that when they leave VSU, they’ll be able to take what they’ve learned and go somewhere else.”

Many students are unaware that a radio station is located right in their backyard.

“I didn’t know that we had a radio station on campus,” said freshman Criminal Justice major Josaiah Lambert. “I think it is cool that we have one on campus and that students can go there.”

If students are interested in hosting their own radio show, they can approach Ms. Williamson with a structured proposal.

“I accept proposals,” said Williamson. “If it’s something well-thought out that I think can be sustained, then sure – if they can go through the training program. I’ll let them have a crack at it, depending on what it is.”

Students can also volunteer and intern at the radio station.

“Anyone interested in working in radio should reach out and be persistent,” said Williamson. “Students with radio station experience can say they worked at a station that uses the same technology that other radio stations use, along with editing and programming software. It gives real-world experience.”

If any students are interested in interning or volunteering, they can contact Ms. Williamson at [email protected].