Benjamin Michael, general manager of WESU 88.1 FM spearheads the Second Annual WESU Holiday Pledge Drive.
WESU General Manager Asks Listeners to Take the Pledge
As the only full-time employee and sole general
manager of Wesleyan’s college and community radio station, Benjamin Michael
says the station wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the
It takes Michael and 115 student and community volunteers to broadcast 88.1
FM WESU 24 hours a day.
"It's a real partnership and labor of love for all of our volunteers,”
Michael says, noting that some programs have been broadcasting for more than
But, like any other non-commercial station, it takes more than teamwork to
make a radio station run. It costs about $75,000 a year to operate, and
that’s why Michael and his volunteers are currently hosting the Second
Annual WESU Holiday Pledge Drive through Dec. 4.
"Unlike the National Public Radio pledge drives that you hear on WESU
through out the year, where the station only receives a small portion of the
over all donations, this drive enables listeners to directly support our
efforts,” Michael explains. “We’re hoping that listeners who depend on WESU
for alternative music, news and other creative programming, to step up to
the plate and support this rare outlet for community voices on the radio.”
goal for this year's drive is to raise $25,000 in listener support to
sustain operating expenses through out the coming year. So far this year,
WESU has already raised $25,000 in funding from the Wesleyan Student
Association, and through their partnership with WSHU Public Radio, WESU
expects to raise an additional $25,000 before the fiscal year's end.
Financial support during this pledge drive will help ensure that WESU
continues to grow and operate as a vehicle and partnership for creative
communications between the Wesleyan University community, the people of the
greater Connecticut River Valley, and beyond. Donations will directly
benefit WESU and help to ensure local, community-based programs and
alternative news continue to have a home on the radio dial, Michael says.
As the GM, Michael works with the station’s volunteers to insure the
programming reflects the diverse community surrounding Wesleyan.
WESU boasts a wide variety of musical programming including shows that
feature folk, jazz, soul, blues, rock, Caribbean, hip hop, experimental,
electronic, gospel, oldies and Latin music. The station also offers a robust
public affairs line-up that includes programs from National Public Radio,
Pacifica and other independent and local alternative news consortiums.
Michael knows the importance of volunteers from personal experience. Since
a teenager, he’s always been dedicated to the arts and community service.
About 10 years ago, Michael worked for the national community service
program through AmeriCorps at the East Bay Conservation Corps in Oakland,
Calif. The former Middletown resident returned to the area and took up a job
at Oddfellows Playhouse as a program manager, a stage and sound designer and
In 1997 he began volunteering with WESU, and worked his way up to technical
director, promotion’s director and most recently consulting general manager.
He was hired full-time as general manager in October 2005.
“I have always had an intense passion for exploring and learning about all
types of music and a history of community service,” Michael says.
“Thankfully WESU was around as a vehicle enabling me to connect my
Michael has hosted several shows on WESU. His first show, “Difficult
Learning” aired between 3 and 5 a.m. Sunday morning. For the past seven
years, he has produced a program called “Dub Revolution,” focusing on a
specific vein of reggae music from Jamaica. Six years ago, he and local
resident Garnett Ankle started up a talk show on current events titled “Talk
for Your Rights.” Ankle continues to host this show.
Being the chief operator of a federally regulated operation, Michael is on
call 24-7. He is responsible for managing the day to day technical and
administrative operations of the station and ensuring that WESU operates in
full compliance with FCC regulations. He acts as the liaison between the
Wesleyan administration, the station’s Board of Directors, Wesleyan students
and community volunteers and the station’s listeners. In addition, Michael
serves as WESU’s “Mr. Fix It.”
“Some days, in addition to the daily routine, I might have to repair a
broken CD player, or work with our engineering team to trouble shoot
transmission problems, while other times I have to use my graphic, Web and
sound design skills,” he says. “I do lots of digital audio editing on a
Michael encourages the station’s listeners to show their support by calling
860-685-7700 or downloading and printing a pledge form from the station’s
also can be sent to WESU 88.1 FM at 45 Broad Street, 2nd Floor, Middletown,
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection