PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Michael Gunter, vice president for student affairs at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff, can hardly wait until fall.
That's when the two-year school will debut a brand new radio station at 100.7 MHz on the FM radio dial.
As a veteran of the broadcasting business, Gunter said bringing such a facility to a small campus is rare.
"Most radio stations are at four-year schools," Gunter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1mVHqa7). "We decided a while back that it would be a great addition to our curriculum, and we just never looked back. The support from everyone here has been fantastic."
Southeast Arkansas College will become the 10th campus in the state to feature a radio station and only the second two-year institution.
Rich Mountain Community College in Mena began broadcasting at 101.1 FM in2002.
Gunter estimated the initial cost of the radio station - which will feature a 100-watt transmitter, a 100-foot broadcast tower and cover a modest range of about 10 miles - will be no more than $20,000.
The station also will broadcast live on the Internet, providing worldwide access.
The format has yet to be decided, but Gunter said he doesn't want to compete with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's radio station -KUAP - which plays jazz.
"We want to offer something different for listeners here in Pine Bluff," he said. "It will probably be a mixture of music, offering a good variety. And we also plan to cover news events and other activities with live remotes as well."
Gunter said excitement is building on campus.
"I have had several students pop in my office and ask me about getting involved," he said. "And even some faculty members. I learned that many people here have broadcasting talents, so that will come in handy when we are up and running."
While there is no degree for broadcasting at Southeast Arkansas College, the radio station will operate as a lab credit for students, earning them one credit hour per semester. Students may take the lab as often as they want.
"This will offer good, old-fashioned practical experience," he said. "It will be hands on for everyone, even the listener. The space where the radio booth will be has a large window, so anyone can walk by, look in and see just how a real radio station operates. Sometimes, it's a mystery to people just how it all works."
Doug Krile, executive director of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association, said college radio stations provide an experience like no other for students wanting to learn more about the business.
He hadn't heard about Southeast Arkansas College's plans but said, "It will be a great adventure for students once it's operating."
"What we have found is that kids who have broadcasting experience while in college come out very well trained in industry standards," Krile said. "Universities are doing their best to keep up with new technology, and it's just great to know that the future of broadcasting will be staffed with young people who have really gotten quality training."
DeAnn Manning of Pine Bluff said she has been an amateur disc jockey on an online radio station for the past five years and wants to know more about the industry.
She said she has been following news of Southeast Arkansas College's new station closely, hoping she can enroll there once it's ready.
"I don't have any formal training, and I have always wanted to learn more about broadcasting," Manning said. "Plus, it could turn into a career. I am hoping to be the first one at the mic when the station goes live. This is pretty exciting."
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com