Support WESU — Community Radio at Wesleyan

One of the great community assets in central Connecticut based at Wesleyan is our radio station, WESU 88.1. This is community radio at its best, with eclectic programing, opportunities for students to work in a great medium, and a mission that makes the station a valuable contributor to the Middletown community. It’s PLEDGE TIME at WESU, and you can help. Station manager Ben Michaels wrote in a recent appeal email:

Once again, I am reaching out again to WESU’s closest friends. Everyone receiving this email is connected to WESU in one way or another. Many of you are already volunteers and/or donors. Others reading this email are musicians, artists, activists, politicians, professors, writers, business people, and civil servants, whose views, art, and ideas have been broadcast throughout the Connecticut River Valley, thanks to the WESU airwaves. The remainder of you perhaps won a concert ticket, music CD, or T-shirt from one of the dozens of giveaways WESU offers each year.  Together, we make up the inner circle of WESU listeners and supporters, people who appreciate this unique approach to radio.

If you have yet to make your contribution, and you find value and meaning in the service that WESU provides to the many communities we serve, we need your support, now!  Every dollar raised will help ensure that we close our fiscal year with a balanced operating budget in addition to completing our 18 month capital campaign for studio upgrades. I hope you will join the relatively small group of people who sustain this unique radio treasure. Please make your donation online or by sending a check to: WESU Radio 45 Broad St 2nd Fl Middletown, CT 06457.

Please help us keep WESU strong! If you have already given, thank you! If not, remember you can also GIVE ONLINE and LISTEN ONLINE !

Support WESU! 75 Years and Going Strong

Driving away from campus this week, I was surprised that my car radio was playing “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” With your mercury mouth in the missionary times And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes…. I was brought back to long ago, lots of emotions swirling. I thought, what radio station could possibly be playing a 11 and half minute Bob Dylan song? With your sheet-metal memories of Cannery-Row… I looked down at the radio….88.1 Good old WESU. Should I leave them by your gate Or sad-eyed Lady, should I wait?  The show was Acoustic Blender, and the DJ was playing an extra bonus Dylan birthday set.

WESU has been serving up surprises for 75 years. Whether it’s avant-garde or bluegrass, alternative news or Middletown events, WESU provides a wonderful contribution to cultural life in central Connecticut. And it’s so cool for our student and community DJs and listeners. Here’s what recent president of the station, Mary Barret ’14, has written for the spring fund drive:

We have been celebrating our landmark birthday, on air, since January with our oral history radio show “Welcome Back” as well as “75 Years Of…,” a program highlighting radio content that wouldn’t likely be heard without stations like WESU. And if you haven’t yet read it, check out the Wesleyan magazine Historical Row column, “WESLEYAN’S UNDERGROUND RADIO STATION,” chronicling the earliest days of radio at WESU.  You can a find links to that article and special 75th anniversary programming and events on our website.

Right now we need your support to keep our unique free form music and public affairs programming on the airwaves. This spring’s pledge drive is especially exciting because it is the first of our 75th anniversary year. As such, we are asking you to consider giving us an extra-special birthday present to help raise additional capital funds to install a backup power system and update our studio equipment. If we raise enough funds by the end of 2014, we hope to also be able to kick off a film documentary project about the history of WESU. Many thanks if you have already made your donation!

Your support for WESU will honor a landmark anniversary and legacy of one of the first student owned and operated college radio stations.  You can donate by e-check, debit, or credit card online here.  

Please support WESU. It’s college/community radio with a vital, progressive tradition.


Support WESU!

The campus has really emptied out, the snow is falling, professors are grading…. And WESU is having a pledge drive.


Here’s what I received from station manager Ben Michael today:

Last spring, when we decided to pursue a “kinder, gentler” approach to fundraising, despite the inherent risk, it was our most successful pledge drive to date!  Please help WESU stand out as a unique public radio station with an equally unique fundraising model. Unless, of course, you prefer constant interruptions in programming from volunteers trying to convince you the station will die without your support. We prefer to gently remind listeners that we need their support and reach out directly to the listeners, friends, and family we know value the many facets of the service we provide.  2014 Promises to be an amazing year for WESU as we reflect upon 75 years of alternative news, public affairs, and community service. We’ve got a ton of great stuff in the works including special on air programming and live community events as well as virtual and physical exhibits exploring the rich legacy that is WESU. Your donation of any size will go a long way towards sustaining the service we provide and help us prepare for the future.  Donate online HERE.


When I am on the road, I often listen to WESU to catch up on news, hear interesting music, or just feel closer to campus. The student and community DJs make the programming happen year in and year out, but they depend on our donations. The happy tradition of adventurous radio continues at Wesleyan, but it does so because we support it. Please give during this holiday season!

WESU: Support College Radio at its Best

Station manager Ben Michael alerted me to WESU’s spring fund drive (you can give here) with the following announcement:

Just 10 years ago WESU was in disrepair. The institutional memory was shot and the studios, music libraries, and business records were in shambles. The station’s license was nearly lost. Fortunately a dedicated group of student and community volunteers worked hard with the Wesleyan University administration to develop a plan to get the station back on its feet.

Currently, WESU operates  24 hrs per day, seven days per week, and is supported by a volunteer staff of over 150 student and community volunteers, two part-time paid staffers, and one full-time general manager. WESU is supported by a partnership between Wesleyan University and listeners, organizations, and businesses throughout the Connecticut River Valley. As evidence of WESU’s transformation over the last decade, for the first time, WESU was crowned “The Best College Radio Station” in the 2013 Hartford Advocate’s Annual Readers’ Poll!

WESU receives no federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or any other grant or foundation sources. WESU depends on listener support to cover roughly one third of its lean $120,000 annual budget. When other public radio stations around the country, including right here in Connecticut, have budgets so huge they can afford to pay their general managers more than twice WESU’s entire annual budget, WESU continues to grow and develop as a community service. With public affairs programming from NPR, Pacifica, local and independent sources in addition to a plethora of free-form music and community programming, WESU offers more perspectives than any other radio station in the region.

In addition to bringing listeners hard-to-access news, music, public affairs, art, and perspectives from across the world, WESU enables our local communities to inform, share, organize, educate, celebrate life, and connect with the world around them. Thanks to the growth in internet broadcasting, WESU now also serves thousands of listeners from around the globe each month. WESU has come a long way since a young student named Arch Doty built that first one-watt radio station in his Wesleyan University Clark Hall dorm room back in 1939.

As an innovative listener-supported community radio station, WESU is constantly exploring new ground. This spring, WESU is taking another risk by exploring a kinder, gentler approach to fundraising in an effort to avoid disrupting the airwaves with another traditional on-air public radio pledge drive.  You can help prevent an over-the-top pledge drive from taking over the WESU airwaves by donating online at  or by sending a check to WESU Radio, 45 Broad St, 2nd fl, Middletown, CT 06457 . WESU is also asking supporters to help spread the word throughout their communities and social networks that reaching new donors is critical to sustaining WESU. Past donors will be receiving letters of appeal in the mail as well.

Community support during this drive specifically supports locally produced free-form radio created by student and community volunteers.  WESU offers a truly unique mix of public affairs and cultural programming that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve. With your support, WESU can further distinguish itself from the radio pack and avoid resorting to interrupting regular programming in order to continue doing what it does best!

Some Summer Works

Just after Wesleyan’s Commencement, professors Lori Gruen (Philosophy and FGSS) and Kari Weil (COL) hosted another group of scholars whose multi-week residency is sponsored by the Animal Studies Institute. This field has been taking off internationally, and Wesleyan has been recognized as a place where some of the most interesting scholarship is being produced. Lori and Kari have recently co-edited an issue of Hypatia, on the theme of “feminists encountering animals,” which is based on a conference they put together at Wes a few years ago. There has been an online forum responding to the journal here.

I learned today that Ellen Thomas, research professor of Earth and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan, has been awarded the Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union. Prof. Marty Gilmore wrote to let us know that the award recognizes “significant original contributions to the scientific understanding of the processes in the ocean; for the advancement of oceanographic engineering, technology, and instrumentation; and for outstanding service to the marine sciences.” Bravo!

Recently we went to Jacob’s Pillow, one of this country’s great modern dance venues, to see Hari Krishnan perform. Hari, a beloved Wes dance prof, gave one of the standout performances in From the Horse’s Mouth, a celebration of male dancers. The director of the Pillow expressed her admiration for the Wes dance tradition and for Pam Tatge’s efforts in presenting first-rate work all year long. Check out who the CFA has coming this month.

Speaking of performances, I was delighted to learn that recent graduate Samantha Joy Pearlman ’11 is bringing her great senior thesis show, Devotedly, Sincerely Yours: The Story of the USO to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. I loved the performance I saw on campus, and I am betting the work just keeps getting better. You can help make that happen here.

Who said summer was a quiet time? And I didn’t even tell you about some of those Wesleyan Spirits singing at Nantucket…



UPDATE on the international scene:

Professor Jack Carr let me know that he and fellow theater professor Yuri Kordonski collaborated on the Russian premiere of Yuri’s adaptation of Crime & Punishment at the Volkhonka Theater in Yekaterinburg, Russia. He’s a spot from Russian TV:

And professor Joel Pfister wrote to tell me that our colleague J. Kehaulani Kauanui was part of a panel at the United Nations on how indigenous media helps preserve cultures and challenge stereotypes. Kehaulani’s program on WESU can be heard around the world!

WESU, Youth Radio and the Engaged University

Most folks in the Wesleyan world know about the deep roots that radio station WESU has in the community. WESU has been an important part of our engaged university for decades. I recently heard about a very cool project in our Middletown Youth Radio program led by students Harry Bartle ‘12, Maddie Neufeld ‘12, Aditi Shivaramakrishnan ‘12, and Ben Fitzelle ‘12,

Here is a synopsis based on a message from Harry Bartle sent before the break: “We submitted a pitch to Generation PRX about working with our kids to create a sort of sound profile about bullying in Traverse Square, the community adjacent to Hi Rise/Lo Rise. A few of our kids, Anthony (DJ Funny Bones) Jordan (DJ Skullkid) and Nyala (DJ Youngster) who are 13, 12, and 7 respectively, all residents of T-Square, will be working together to conduct interviews and gather material in the field that we’ll be editing together for a five minute piece due January 20th. Generation PRX has generously given us state of the art professional audio equipment to help us put this together, and we’ve just had our first “webinar” online meeting session. We’re all very excited (!) and we’re hoping to get as much material as we can in the coming weeks. And as a quick side note, we’re all seniors so we are looking for recruits who might be interested in keeping MYRP alive after we graduate, so anyone interested in helping out should email or Maddie Neufeld at to get in touch.”

The Wesleyan connection to the children of Traverse Square is longstanding, and the connection through Middletown Youth Radio is powerful (and fun). I know these seniors would like to see even more students get involved!




Monday is W-E-S-U Day!

Last night I attended a small celebration of a pretty big event. Wesleyan’s community radio station, WESU, recently expanded its broadcast range by installing a more powerful transmitter. Tens of thousands of additional listeners will now be able to tune into the station’s eclectic mix of music, cultural and political talk shows, and to hear information about what’s happening in Central Connecticut. Along with station manager Ben Michael, students direct the organization. Community volunteers help guide the programming and are involved in all levels of the station.

Last night Sonia Manjon, VP for Strategic Partnerships and Chief-Diversity-Officer, sang Ben’s and the radio station’s praises. She emphasized how important WESU is for generating even more community partnerships. Mark Masselli, founder and director of the Community Health Center, spoke eloquently about how the station has helped community organizers for decades. “For a long time WESU has spoken truth to power,” Mark said, and he was looking forward to its ability to do so for years to come. Mark’s generosity is one of the key reasons we have this new transmitter, and he was already advocating for digital upgrades that would extend our radio presence even further. Middletown’s Mayor Sebastian Giuliano joined in the chorus of congratulations last night, and presented a proclamation declaring that Monday, November 8, 2010 would be “W-E-S-U Day” in Middletown.

I learned about the storied origins of the station last night. In 1939 a small group of students got things going in Clark Hall. They used the water pipes as rudimentary antennae, eventually getting their AM sound almost across the campus. Over time the station grew in range and sophistication, and in the late sixties students had acquired a license for regular FM presence. When I was a student here in the 1970s, WESU offered music and news you wouldn’t get elsewhere, and that’s still the case. I told a story about John Woodhouse’s strangely stimulating classical music late night show, and I could have talked about the great jazz or political shows that expanded the sounds one could hear on the airwaves. When I joked last night that I wanted more bluegrass, a student told me about his Tuesday show, Hardly, Strickly Bluegrass. It shares the early Tuesday night time with Acoustic Blender. Check out all the programs.

Now with 6,000 watts of broadcast power, WESU is stronger than ever. If you start listening, I’m sure you’ll find something offensive, delightful, and mind expanding. It’s independent radio — small station with the big sound. CONGRATULATIONS WESU!

WESU from the West Coast

I write this post from Los Angeles, where I have been visiting with alumni and other members of the Wesleyan family. When I’m on the road, I often listen online to WESU, our wonderfully creative and original radio station. Not only does WESU bring us international, national and local news from perspectives we otherwise might not hear, they offer genuine community-based radio. I am grateful to station manager Benjamin Michael and the volunteers who keep WESU a vital source for radio that makes a difference in Central Connecticut.


Anna Gevalt ’09 performing at WESU
Anna Gevalt ’09 performing at WESU

Like all community-based radio, WESU depends on our support. Through December 14 the station is holding a pledge drive. To show your support for WESU, donate online at or call 860-685-7700 during the drive and make a pledge. Premiums will be offered for donations of $20 and above. I just called in my pledge. Won’t you please help?

Last night I was asking for help when I met with more than 200 alumni in Los Angeles. I’ve been talking with writers and editors, teachers and musicians, producers, doctors and yoga instructors. It is a difficult time to ask for support. Many of the people I’ve met here are frightened by the financial turmoil and concerned for their livelihood. All agreed that we are in the midst of the most serious financial crisis in generations. Still, the loyal Wesleyan community members with whom I am meeting are eager to hear about what’s happening on campus and willing to lend their financial and moral support. It is especially gratifying to see this expression of generosity during these challenging times.

After a quick stop to meet with our San Diego alumni group, I am heading back to Middletown. It’s always great to be back in California, but I am eager to return to campus for this weekend’s production of The Threepenny Opera and the other end of semester events.

I’ll also be meeting with student, faculty and staff groups to discuss our budget proposals. We still have a couple of months before presenting our next draft budget to the Board in February, and I am eager to hear new ideas on how we can deal with the substantial fiscal challenges ahead of us. The proposals that I shared with the Wesleyan community represent one scenario to deal with these challenges. We will continue to develop these ideas with input and imagination. Input and imagination – just like WESU!

[tags] Los Angeles, WESU, Anna Gevalt, pledge drive, alumni, economy, San DIego, The Threepenny Opera, budget [/tags]

More on Financial Aid for Students (and for a station!)

Some of the comments I’ve received on the blog and in person concern the limitations of Wesleyan’s initiative to reduce student indebtedness. Many wonder if we have created a financial aid paradigm that will result in entering classes of wealthy students and poor students (whose tuition is paid through grants). What happens, many ask, to middle-class families who can’t afford the tuition but don’t qualify for robust aid?This is a question we ask ourselves all the time. And the issue has led us to reduce student loan requirements for all who qualify for aid. A third of our aid recipients are from families earning more than $100k a year, and almost a quarter from families earning more than $125k annually. Like many of the most selective private colleges and universities in the United States, Wesleyan has chosen to focus its aid on need rather than to reallocate financial aid for merit scholarships. There is no reason to assume that merit scholarships would disproportionately aid students from middle-income households. In any case, can our school do more to identify real financial need among middle-class families? I bet we can, and that’s why we regularly review our financial aid allocations and formulae. In order to remain truly need blind, we must be sensitive to the variety of sacrifices families must make to send their students to Wesleyan. And our fundraising is focused on bringing more resources to support a creative use of grants to support middle-class and low-income families.Our recent initiative to reduce student indebtedness is, I realize, only one step in our efforts to enhance financial aid. With the generous support of the Wesleyan community, I am confident that we will be able to make further strides to reduce financial pressures on the significant percentage of our student body who need financial assistance to thrive here.————————————————————-Every morning I wake up to NPR on Wesleyan’s radio station, WESU (88.1 or In the afternoons there are engaging public affairs shows, with creative music programming in the evenings and on weekends. Now is the time to support the station’s pledge drive, and here’s how (courtesy of Jesse Sommer ’05):“WESU has really blossomed over the last three years. In that time, station members introduced Internet broadcasting, created a public affairs department, founded a nonprofit booster club, began publishing WESU Magazine, developed a regimented DJ training program, built new studios, initiated annual fundraisers, and fully upgraded the station’s technology. And WESU is still Wesleyan University’s largest student organization and most vibrant partnership with Middletown. The broadcast schedule now boasts a record 140 inhouse programs, including free-form music and local public affairs shows. Call our donation hotline at 860/687-7700, or donate online at

[tags] Financial aid, WESU, radio, WESU Magazine, pledge drive [/tags]