Beginning early in the station’s history, WAVM made Church Services a focal point of their radio programming. Throughout the school year, students would visit a different church each Sunday to broadcast a Mass for those community members (the elderly, the sick, etc.) who couldn’t attend the service.
Primarily, the effort is just one example of WAVM’s goal to be a service to the community. Even more than giving quality music broadcasts from a tiny booth in the high school, the station was reaching and providing quality content that could make a difference to the region.
On a second level, Mags (Joe Magno) was teaching his students a valuable lesson about the community. Take care of your own. That’s the right thing to do. And as will be seen later in this story, WAVM made a strong effort to do so in such projects as The Beacon Santa Telethon and YMCA’s Youth and Government.
“WAVM invites all interested groups and persons to utilize its facilities for public service bulletins. Ideas for programs are always welcome and air time will be made available to any group for a worthwhile project. As a non-profit organization, the services of WAVM are free of charge. Please contact William Cassidy, Community Services Director, at 897-5179 if we can be of service to you or your organization. WAVM is in business to serve the community.”
Of course, to this day, the radio station is partially funded by the community, through such avenues as the sale of raffle tickets or on-air sponsorships. So WAVM needed the community in order to survive. Also, there’s a high turnover rate of the station’s personnel, simply because the students graduate. So a new staff has to recruited from the young students coming up through the middle school. By covering town events, WAVM’s name is continually introduced to the community raising awareness. This awareness raises interest in the station. People know and understand the hardwork that WAVM is doing and support the station financially and by encouraging their children to take part.
On a third level, the students needed to have a realistic experience of providing programming to a specific area, and for this programming to really succeed, WAVM needed an audience to be listening. Otherwise, no media operation can truly be considered successful if no one is listening.
From 91.7 FM, “FM” stands for “Frequency Modulation,” one of the methods that information is carried on a radio signal.As an educational radio station, WAVM had to broadcast in FM, as opposed to AM (Amplitude Modulation), but that has not posed a problem. FM waves are much less susceptible to static-causing sources of electromagnetic radiation, making FM the choice for stations who are concerned with the quality of sound.
Also, for the students to respect what they were doing, they had to know that someone else was listening and respecting what they were doing. So they had to find a niche, and that meant covering events that no one else was covering such as local football and basketball games, or other special happenings throughout the Town of Maynard. And, of course, WAVM hoped that the community would find these programs interesting or necessary enough to tune into 91.7 FM on a regular basis. The Church Services proved to be one of those programs.
For Church Services, the students rise early on Sunday mornings to gather the necessary equipment. Various microphones, audio and power cords, and a short-range transmitter, called a Marti, are needed. Using a portable antenna, the Marti sends the broadcast signal of the service back to the high school studio. WAVM actually didn’t have a Marti in the early days. So the on-location crew would transmit the service via telephone back to the studio.
At the school, an engineer monitors the incoming and outgoing levels, watches for problems, and re-broadcasts the transmission to the community. Before and after the service, the engineer, doubling as a disc jockey, would also add music and make announcements. Afterwards, he or she would sign WAVM off for the day.
“Found Funny Long After The Fact”
Peter Slabysz, who graduated in 1983, remembers walking into the station one Sunday morning prior to a Church Service Broadcast only to hear a DJ playing AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.” Not a good move by the DJ at the time.
As of September 1997, WAVM will have begun broadcasting church services for another school year, and they intend to do the same in future years as long as someone’s listening.
The Story of WAVM continues with The Beacon Santa