Before the WIUX town hall meeting began Tuesday night in the Global and International Studies Building auditorium, board members sang and joked. They talked about 2014, the last time the station had to relocate.
As station members filed in, the volume rose. The upcoming move, into an exclusive Media School space, will be different.
When IU administration sent an email in October asking general manager Brian Berger how he felt about moving, he said he was shocked. Though the current house was always meant to be temporary, he did not yet know the University would make WIUX relocate in the summer. However, after a few meetings with Media School representatives, his fears dissipated.
According to an initial design proposed by IT director Joey Miller, the new WIUX home would have two studios, a production room, a directors’ office and a living space only accessible by student IDs associated with the station.
“I’m sure we’re going to plaster the place with posters,” Berger said. “I think the look and feel of WIUX is going to be similar.”
It will be smaller, but he said that will only bring people closer together.
“It’s the people and our content that make WIUX what it is, regardless of if we’re in a house or we’re in a studio in the Media School,” public relations director Annie Skertic said. “It’s still going to be the organization it’s been for the past 50-plus years. That’s not changing.”
IU student radio began more than 50 years ago in Wright Quad, as WQAD, and in Foster Quad, as WFQR.
The largest carrier-current, student-owned, commercial campus radio station in the world was born in 1967, when the two stations merged. Its name was WIUS, and it resided in what is now the Mathers Museum.
Arson destroyed that home in October 1972, and it operated in the mean time from spare studios in IU Radio and Television Service and in the old Wright Quad facilities.
The student radio station settled just two blocks from the old WIUS house on Eighth Street during spring break 1973. From there, WIUS would see the transition from carrier-current AM to cable to open-air AM to FM.
IU student radio handled a period of funding so low that rooms were rented out as student apartments, organized the first Culture Shock music festival in 1986, and received national recognition in the 2000s under the new call letters WIUX.
Student radio was asked to move again in 2014, this time just one block west to 715 E. 8th Street. There was a town hall meeting then, too, Skertic said.
“They were in that house for like 40 years,” Skertic said. “But this is only our third year in this house. So this is my WIUX home. It’s been my WIUX home for three years, but for those people, I think it was more of an institution at that point.”
Lightning struck the current station house and damaged equipment in summer 2015, but that school year WIUX still would win best college radio station, best website and best public service promotion in the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System awards.
The station is always moving up despite its trials, web content director Mary Luncsford said.
Current board members, DJs and committee members, congregating in the station house at all hours of day and night, would find themselves part of a family fostered by pure student radio.
“One summer I was in between leases and basically living out of my car and crashing where I could, often times the station house,” Berger said in his staff bio. “From now on, WIUX will always be remembered as my homeless home.”
Skertic said she remembers staying at the station house for the entirety of the most recent Pledge-a-thon. She had been sleeping upstairs where the B-Side online streaming studio and offices are.
She came downstairs after 2 a.m. to find a dark living room. People slept on the slumping white loveseat and the long blue couch. The rocks Skertic had painted at Culture Shock years prior rested among dozens of concert posters.
Through the meeting room and the kitchen, with its googly-eyed stove, through another two rooms of “I love WIUX because” signs and mismatched chairs, there was the 99.1 studio, where people were wide awake and blasting music.
Production director Collin Thomas said Media School faculty have been cooperative in making sure those programs would still exist in the new Franklin Hall space.
Skertic said she’ll always remember the front porch, sitting outside for hours, and talking with DJs she’d never met before and her best friends.
Though the front porch won’t make the move, the people will.
A freshman who attended the town hall meeting expressed concern that the homey vibe would change and the people would suffer.
News director D’Angelo King turned to him and said the beauty of being a freshman is that he gets to make the new vibe.
“I think people, especially seniors and people that have been involved with WIUX, are definitely going to miss the station house,” Berger said. “I know I will, but I think what’s going to change is going to be a different type of culture. I think the incoming students and the people who are new to WIUX are really going to be able to shape this new area and cultivate it to however they want it to be.”