The Underground disk jockey "Bad" Mike Haverkamp, a senior history major, signs off the air Tuesday at the station`s studio in the Ohio Union.
The future of student-run radio at Ohio State could be decided today.Provost Ed Ray called a meeting with Randall Ripley, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science, and Dale Outzs, WOSU station manager, after a Washington, D.C., FCC lawyer was called to quiet The Underground, the student-run radio station at OSU.For the first two weeks of this month, The Underground, 91.1 FM and channel 19 on Units cable, was broadcasting with an illegal transmitter that was 10 to 20 times more powerful than the current transmitter, which operates at a single watt. Joe Atzberger, the general manager for The Underground and a senior majoring in computer science and English, said Margaret Miller, an FCC lawyer with the Dow, Loahnes and Albertson law firm in Washington, D.C., got involved because WOSU complained that The Underground was allegedly interfering with its Marion affiliate, WOSB, which operates at the 91.1 frequency in Marion County. Miller refused to comment.Ray said he needs to learn what the issues are to see if something can be done “collaboratively,” in the future. “I’m at ground zero here trying to find out what can be done for the students and not drown out WOSU.”WOSU is affiliated with the social and behavioral sciences. This means the college oversees the stations’ budget, which comes from private donations, the university, federal and state grants. OSU gives WOSU around $300,000 annually along with eight FCC broadcasting licenses – which WOSU uses for two television stations, five FM radio stations and one AM station. The last FCC license sold in Columbus went for $27 million. The Underground is the university’s only student-run radio station, which operates on a $50,000 budget from the university. The Underground paid around $850 for the more powerful transmitter.”We wanted to be heard. That’s what we’ve been working for, that’s what we’ve been working toward for years,” said Atzberger. “The flagship university of the state has a student radio station operating with less power than some high schools (in Ohio).”The Underground is currently broadcasting with the old transmitter and will have a professor in OSU’s electrical engineering department make sure the station is in compliance with the FCC.”It’s important to put the interference issue to bed,” Atzberger said. “What I want is a discussion of student radio in this university. I want to hear Ed Ray declare the priorities of OSU radio.”Atzberger meets with Ray on Friday.”If (Ray) thinks WOSU serves the students’ interests, that’s fine,” Atzberger said.Atzberger said WOSU provides little more than a public relations function for the university.”To me it’s clear that (WOSU) does not have an academic function or have students preparing for a career in radio,” Atzberger said. “There is no campus reporting or catering to the campus community at all.”Atzberger said a short-term goal for The Underground is to broadcast some of its programming on WOSU 89.7 FM or 820 AM. “We don’t import any programming, we create everything.”Outzs did not rule out this plan as a possible path for The Underground .”I’ve never refused to talk to students about involvement,” Outzs said.Outzs helped to start student radio station at the University of Georgia. While an undergraduate, Outzs said he helped get the student station air time during the dead time of a commercial station in the area.”By the time I was a grad student, we put together a request for a (broadcasting) license and got it,” Outzs said.