Move Comes with Desire to Maintain Relevance, “Keep Up with the Times”
By Clifford Michel
WSIA is planning to revamp its entire studio and make the long awaited conversion to digital, marking a milestone in the radio station’s 33 year history.
The student-run station has been saving up for the conversion for more than a decade. Station members said that the current equipment, which uses analog transmission, was outdated and no longer prepares students for the significant changes that have occurred in the world of radio.
“In the New York City metropolitan area, all of the major radio stations at this point are going to be digital,” said Laura Parnizari-Maraio, WSIA’s interim general manager.
“So if you’re coming out of school and you’ve worked at the radio station and you want to work at another radio station, you’re not going to be familiar with their equipment if you’re not using what they’re using.”
Parnizari-Maraio continued, “And I’m telling you, Z100, 93.7, they’re not using analog equipment, they’re all digital.”
Leaders at the station project that the conversion will attract new members to WSIA who may’ve believed that the station was outdated.
“It’s going to make us more relevant and we can finally ditch the label as an old-school station,” said Jose Rivera, WSIA’s Sports Director.
“With the station still being analog it kind of drives people away, because everything now is digital. It’s the new craze today, so people will be more interested if we kept up with the times.”
While purchase orders have yet to be finalized, the lowest bidder from a group of outside contractors stands at approximately $120,000.
The station has a little more than $144,000 in its digital-conversion budget line.
Another major change for the station will be the conversion to live-assist.
Most commercial radio stations at this point no longer use CD towers to queue songs, instead most use computer programs and a digital library.
Though, nostalgic students will still have the option to use CDs or vinyls.
Studio furniture, old equipment, and new equipment will most likely be contracted out due to sensitivity
WSIA is also chasing its second contract with the Staten Island Yankees, which will allow students to broadcast games for the minor league baseball team. Parnizari-Maraio estimated that about 10 students will be ready to broadcast by June.
Leaders at the station are focused on steady preparation in order to handle the opportunity smoothly and professionally.
“It’s going to take a lot of teamwork and preparation but again this is what we want to do and it’s going to prepare us for the real world because broadcasting is just as intense as playing the game in my mind,” said Rivera.
“[It’s important to] come to the park night in and night out and be prepared for anything, have your notes, have your game face, and be prepared to grind out the game,” Rivera continued.
The station will be leading these changes without the guidance of former general manager Phillip Masciantonio, who left the CSI in April for a similar position at Columbia University.
Parnizari-Maraio, who is splitting Masciantonio’s responsibilities with the Gregory Brown, the Campus Center’s Associate Director, says that next year will be a period of change for students involved with the radio station.
For the first time in a while, all seven directorships available at the station are expected to be filled when elections are casted during the year’s final full staff meeting.
“We’re looking forward to coming together as a team again because I think we’ve kind of been fractured and the station has not been 100 percent,” said Parnizari-Maraio. “Now, along with the changes, we have a really good group of people this year.”