Why Support WMSE? – OpEd, EGlaser
Column for Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online (jsonline.com) Opinion-Local Perspectives
Why Support WMSE?
‘Tis the season of giving. This year, instead of a sweater or tie which they’ll use once or twice a year (when they visit you), why not consider an honorary donation to an organization which adds value to thousands of lives every day? The Mighty 91 WMSE has been spreadin’ the musical love since 1981, and relies solely on the support of the community (you) for its operation.
91.7FM WMSE is a non-profit, 24-hour, listener-supported radio station broadcast from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). WMSE’s on-air staff of volunteers specialize in the genre featured on their individual programs. Shows range from blues, to punk, to reggae.1 Though housed within MSOE, WMSE is financially independent of the university. They are funded by the WMSE listening community (you) through membership contributions and by area businesses through program underwriting.2 Their mission is: “To educate the members of our community by providing a wide selection of musical programming they can’t hear anywhere else on the radio dial. To be an outlet for local artists who would otherwise receive little or no commercial radio exposure in our community. To have a unique and tangible value to MSOE.”2
As The Prometheus Radio Project affirms, radio is valuable because “it is easy to produce, free to consume, and accessible to more people across the world than any other mass media. Radio does not require expensive equipment, literacy, or a broadband connection. Participatory radio is a proven tool for movement‐building and cultural expression.”3 Despite the global spread of information and communication technologies, there remains significant imbalance in the access to information as evidenced by the control and concentration of media ownership in the hands of a small number of commercial companies. Community media is an effort to redress this imbalance. Community radio can make a difference by supporting the notion of participation by a growing number of local citizens in their radio service. 4,5
WMSE’s value can be found in the voice it gives to genres of music not heard elsewhere in Wisconsin. Heavy metal, free jazz, and spaced-out electronica all have a home at 91.7. Even if you personally don’t grasp the appeal of a specific genre of music, it is easy to appreciate the cultural understanding and community building that exposure to a diverse musical repertoire brings. In this day and age, people realize that “they need to know about the world in all of its surprises and uncertainties, to better handle the needs of all who inhabit our planet… Because people are wired in ways that manifest their human-ness no matter where they live, music is important as a means of allowing aesthetic experiences” that reflect the depths of human existence.6
WMSE also proves its value by giving back to the community which supports it. Fundraisers, such as the Rockabilly Chili contest, and Food Slam, provide a unique opportunity for station contributors to experience multiple local restaurant offerings in a single fun and social event.7 Additionally, WMSE provides a daily afternoon forum for discussion of local happenings.8 Other community involvement includes the weekly Local/Live show, where local musicians are invited to the studio to talk about their music and perform live for the listening audience.9
Finally, WMSE has begun to use to its live performance studio as a public access studio, providing recording opportunities for “underserved socio-economic artists.”10 This commitment to preserve and honor “Milwaukee’s incredibly rich cultural and ethnic musical landscape”10 deserves our commitment.
Our home, Milwaukee, is truly unique and wonderful. Please support one of the organizations, 91.7FM WMSE, which makes Milwaukee unique and wonderful.