Possibly by as early as summer of 2015, college radio could return to the Mobile airwaves.
The University of South Alabama has acquired a license for a low-power FM station that will allow what has been an Internet-only station to go terrestrial, according to USA Department of Communications Chairman Jim Aucoin.
The station will have a maximum power of 28 watts and run on the frequency of 97.1 FM, and bear the call letters WGJR-LP. However, it will go by the name The Prowl.
“We are in the process of designing a little shed that will house all our equipment. It will be attached to a light pole and we will put an antenna on top of one of the light poles at Stanky Field,” Aucoin said. “Once we have the building in place we will have a consultant come down and design the station, install the switcher and get us on the air. We’re looking at sometime this summer, but I’m not certain of that.”
He said the station would serve roughly a five-mile area around the university. If things go well and there is audience desire, Aucoin said plans are to hopefully add a couple of repeaters around town that will help with larger coverage.
Aucoin said the station will be a mixture of music, talk shows and sports broadcasts. It will become part of the Jaguar sports network and broadcast some sports, although at this time Aucoin was not sure which.
He said the The Prowl will feature students as on-air talent, which is something that greatly enhances educational opportunities. He also said the current web-based station has been preparing students for this for the past five years.
“The will have an adviser making sure they adhere to FCC standards, but the voices people hear will be students,” he said. “The students came to me five years ago and said they wanted to start a station, and I said go ahead, but it had to be web-based because we had no money.”
Attempts to find a frequency were frustrated by the expense of high-power stations, but Aucoin said the students were also instrumental in landing the low-power frequency that will put The Prowl on the air.
“Some students were watching the FCC site and it came up that there would be some low-power licenses made available. We hired a consultant to make sure we were in line when it came up,” Aucoin said.
College radio hasn’t been on the airwaves in Mobile since WTOH-FM went off the air at Spring Hill. Aucoin said there’s still not official funding for The Prowl — something he hopes the Board of Trustees will take up next year. Right now they are using some funding from JAG-TV and he said they plan to sell sponsorships as well.
Local Emmy winners
A local television reporter and meteorologist were winners recently when the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced its Emmys recently.
Modupe Idowu, a reporter for Local15 News, won an Emmy for environmental reporting — a piece entitled “Crude Oil Pipeline Near Mobile’s Water Supply: Who Knew?” The story dealt with a proposed oil pipeline running through the Big Creek Lake watershed.
From WKRG-TV, Chief Meteorologist Alan Sealls picked up two Emmy Awards. One award was in the Weather category for a segment explaining haloes, arcs and a parahelic circle. The other Emmy was for Sealls’ overall performance as a meteorologist and came in the On-Camera Talent category.
Sealls has now won five career Emmys.