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NEW CONCORD History recorded the first step for Muskingum University radio station WMCO 90.7 FM Jan. 28, 1961 with the inaugural broadcast from a secondhand 10 watt transmitter.
That history took a leap forward Jan. 27, 2012. On that day the radio station launched digital audio streaming via the Internet.
Dr. Jeffrey Harman, professor of communications and director of broadcasting at the university, explained.
WMCO is no different than any other radio station, expecting we need to go where audiences are. You look at a station like WCMJ ... you can go to their website and listen online. We have wanted to do that for a long time.
Standing in the way of going global were financial, legal and resource issues, specifically use of the campus computer network. All issues were resolved.
Were actually sending one signal out using an off-site host to stream for us, Harman said.
They host our stream for us off-campus, added Dr. Lisa Marshall, assistant professor of communications and WMCO station manager. Thats where you pick it up from. You never know when you connect. Thats how we keep our campus network from being clogged by all these users. If youre at a campus computer, students, faculty and staff can pick it up through our campus network. If youre off, its different.
Digital streaming allows a listener to access WMCO radio broadcasts via smart phones by way of applications, such as Tunein Radio.
Of course, the station is accessible at the Orbit Media Online website, www.orbitmediaonline.com.
That is the central location, Harman said, for Muskingum University radio, television, digital media and the (Black and Magenta.)
The website includes news articles, sports and community events schedules, radio programming schedules and links to other websites including the campus newspaper the Black and Magenta, among others.
And, of course, the log-on for streaming radio broadcasts.
As part of the journalism major, we recognize the journalism program is built around convergence, that boundaries are collapsing and media, as we become digital, enters into one anothers territory. So we have this central location where radio, TV, digital media all live. One of the focal points was to get WMCO streaming at that location, Harman added.
Our student program director, Jonathan Williams, revamped the website over the summer. Its not as restraining, its a lot easier to upload a news story that aired with a print story. Its a lot more user friendly now, said Marshall. He was integral in helping with the technical side.
It was his vision that moved us forward, talking about progress, Harman added. Hes been instrumental in getting this to take shape. It does present a way to interact with the audience.
How popular is the new global WMCO? In the first 18 days of streaming listeners have heard 652 hours of programming, an average session length of 22 minutes. Log-ons have been made from 390 different devices.
Streaming has not affected the content of the broadcasts.
Our programing essentially hasnt changed, said Marshall. What its done is make our programming more relevant. I getting a lot of excitement from students saying I called home and my mom listened to my show and heard me for the first time! Also for alumni can hear their local news ... every day.
The radio station continues to broadcast at 90.7 FM from a 1,300 watt analog transmitter, reaching as far as 25 miles into southeastern Ohio.
But this is the next big innovation, Harman said of digital streaming.