WEMU 89.1 FM, the public radio station broadcasting from Eastern Michigan University, has voluntarily cut its reliance on EMU‘s general fund by $50,000 this year, with more cuts to follow.
WEMU General Manager Molly Motherwall said the voluntary cut was prompted by the state of Michigan announcing last year that funding to colleges and universities would be reduced by 15 percent.
“We knew departments at the university were going to experience cuts, and we worked together to put together a three-year strategic plan reducing our budget by $250,000 dollars by the end of 2014,” Motherwall said.“And because we have additional resources we felt it was important for us to stand up and say we understand the university’s first priority is academics so we will voluntarily cut our own budget and work to become more self-sufficient,” she said. To subsidize the cuts, the annual Summer Soft Pledge Drive is in effect until June 26. WEMU has a goal of raising $100,000 in order to reach their fiscal goal of $650,000 consisting of a mixture of phone-in, mail-in and online pledges.
Michigan public universities primarily receive funding from three sources which include donations and grants, tuition and state and federal funding, but government appropriations to public institutions have begun to slow.
Motherwall said, “We will never eliminate funding from [EMU] completely. We’re just reducing the amount, and it’s important to note we do not get any money from student tuition dollars or student fees.”
Other than receiving partial funding from the university, WEMU also relies on funding from a federal grant, and listeners consisting of individuals and businesses. They derive the remaining funding from pledges and fundraisers.
Motherwall explained some of the station’s fundraising efforts.
“We have two major fundraising campaigns a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. We send out mailings to people who have already given us money, but then we do an intense eight day on-air pledge drive where we actually interrupt programming [and] we bring in volunteers from the community to answer phones and bring in special guests on the air to help us ask for funds,” she said.
WEMU is a community radio station with a professional staff that was created on Dec. 8, 1965. It began with a 10 watt broadcast signal from EMU’s Quirk Building and a prior frequency of 88.1 FM.
During the 1970s the station moved to King Hall, changed its frequency to 89.1 FM and increased its broadcast signal to 15,500 watts.
The station’s primary market is Washtenaw County and features a music format that focuses mainly on jazz and blues.
Motherwall said the station is an important part of the university.
“We broadcast EMU football and basketball, and we act as an ambassador in the community for EMU. We run recruitment announcements, we sponsor events, we bring people onto campus who might not have come here before,” she said.
“We are the go to news station in Washtenaw County. So, we may not serve the students who are on campus directly, but we certainly serve the institution as a public service arm and in spreading the word about the university,” she said.
If you wish to make a donation you may do so online at www.WEMU.org, by phone at 734-487-2229 or by mail at WEMU, P.O. Box 980350, Ypsilanti, MI 48198.