College Radio Makes Major Upgrade

Illustration by Anh Vu

In the era of instant music streaming, many people do not consider tuning in to radio stations, making it difficult for radio stations to gain and keep listeners at a consistent rate. Most music listeners seem to prefer their personalized Spotify playlists and algorithm-based recommendations. RIT’s own student-run station, WITR, looks to defy this apparent downturn with its most recent developments.

As of Sept. 19, 2023, WITR made a major improvement to its infrastructure, headlined by approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase its radio signal from its previous 910 watts to over 3,000 watts. According to WITR’s current Chief Engineer Krzysztof Grochal, a third year Cybersecurity student, the last wattage expansion was on April 29, 1984.

An increase in wattage means that listeners can tune in from places outside of RIT and the Rochester community, and the signal strength is better for those it already reached. Even in the short time since the upgrade has been in effect, listeners have been able to access the station from the shores of Lake Ontario all the way to Batavia and Geneseo.

“We got a letter from a random convenience store in Japan saying they play us 24/7,” Grochal added, recalling listener responses WITR has obtained.

“We got a letter from a random convenience store in Japan saying they play us 24/7.”  

Adding the additional wattage was a long process: the process started in 2017 and spanned multiple chief engineers. The most time-consuming addition was a completely new antenna installed on top of Mark Ellingson Hall. However, the equipment was not the only change WITR made these last few years.

“No stone was left unturned,” Grochal stated. “Every single server was basically wiped. [We made a] new website, new branding, new music format.” 

With the commitment to improving its signal quality and brand recognition, WITR has made it clear that they do not plan to let the changing music tides stop the station from reaching new ears. If you want to be part of WITR's new audience or learn more about WITR, you can tune into 89.7 FM or visit them online.