Photo courtesy of WRIU
In the spirit of spring, WRIU’s annual Radiothon kicks off the final stretch of the semester starting April 8 through April 15. Every year around early April, the station fundraises through Radiothon, which is their primary source of funding. This additional income helps with the operation, maintenance and anything else the station needs to allocate funds for, such as equipment and travel.
To participate in Radiothon, listeners call into shows and give donations ranging from $1 to $100. Each amount donated comes with a special premium, which is WRIU’s way of expressing a thank you for the generosity of their patrons.
Donate $1 or more and you get a pen, sticker and a card back for your cell phone. Donating $25 to $50 will get you a tumbler cup, $50 to $75 nabs you a baseball t-shirt and $75-$100 you will receive a duffel bag with the WRIU logo on it. However, if you are feeling especially generous, a donation of greater than $100 will get you all of these items.
General manager and spokesperson at WRIU, Ben Kinch explains, “the donations are what we survive on at WRIU because we’re a non-profit, non-commercial station, so we don’t run commercials or receive money from anyone outside of the University besides the listeners. The listeners are our main source.”
Although WRIU can be heard from anywhere in Rhode Island, there was a previous issue with the station’s transmitter where many listeners as far as Providence were only able to tune in at a low frequency. It was only through donations that they were able to buy a new transmitter which has the station sounding clear to listeners across the state.
“We usually bring in anywhere between $20,000 to $25,000 a year,” said Kinch. “So we have a really good relationship with our listeners to the point where they donate a lot to the station.”
The donors, ranging from students to alumni, are often long time listeners of WRIU and are the biggest benefactors to Radiothon. Many of the DJs are from the community and have been with the station for 10, almost 20 years. The longstanding following they collect creates a familiarity between listeners that makes them repeat donors year after year.
Kinch also mentions that WRIU has been the number one non-commercial radio station in the state for a long time saying, “We really haven’t changed our identity or much of anything, and I believe people appreciate the kind of continuity where they know who they’re going to be listening to. It’s something unique.”
Radiothon is not the only way that students can support WRIU. Kinch expressed that tuning into the station and spreading the word helps them as well. Though he describes the whereabouts of the station as being “tucked away,” Kinch says at WRIU they try to make themselves known by being at First Night or Welcome Days. “If you know about WRIU, then you should tell your friends about WRIU.”
The unique nature of the station is that it provides students with a great opportunity to experience what it is like being on air. It is something that WRIU wishes would intrigue more students.
The lack of Top 40 hits is an acquired taste, but Kinch explains that, “The variation can be both a pro and a con. It can be a pro if you are into discovery and finding about different genres and different people that you didn’t hear about going into the station. It’s a con when you want a type of continuity, from 94 HJY for example, that WRIU doesn’t offer. We’re all about creativity.”
Many areas of interest where students can participate for example,sports broadcasting or music, allow the station to broaden their community and future prospects with new ideas from new recruits. A future goal for the station, beyond continuing Radiothon, Kinch says, would be to stay updated and use the money to be modernized.
“For the station as whole, we’re going to continue to travel with the URI [men’s] basketball team, do as many broadcasts as we can, put our students in the best possible situation if they want to go into the field to get that on air experience,” Kinch said.