The student radio station at Michigan State University, WDBM-FM (“The Impact”) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year! The station signed on in 1989. WDBM was successor to the Michigan State Network, which in the 1970s was the nation’s largest college carrier current radio network, and had studios in several MSU dormitories. The network was eventually consolidated to one carrier current station, WLFT (“Tune to the Left”), which broadcast from the former WKAR studios on the third floor of the MSU Auditorium Building. This was also the first home of WDBM-FM.
Jeremy Whiting, an MSU and Impact alum, is now general manager of the station. “In the early days, there was always a live DJ in the studio 24 hours a day,” Whiting said to MSU Today. “With the addition of computer automation software in the mid-2000s, DJs have been able to pre-record some shifts. It is rare to find a DJ doing a 2 to 6 a.m. shift these days. While the technology has changed considerably over that time, the process is still very similar.”
As technology has advanced over the years, the station has branched out to be more than just a radio station. The organization has embraced content that is quintessential to modern entertainment and news-sharing. The station produces podcasts on topics ranging from athletics to current events. Students write stories, spanning from music they enjoy — including “hidden gem” artists or songs — to athletic updates on campus and around the world. Impact’s video content, available on their website and YouTube channel, includes live and in-studio performances from a range of musical artists.
“The staff continues to look for ways to grow and stay relevant,” Whiting said. “That has led to a variety of evening specialty music shows, a talk block of programming on Sundays for student groups and community nonprofits to promote their organizations, and an increased emphasis on online distribution channels.”