The Invisible Station

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In a student-led survey conducted before Thanksgiving break, 31% out of the 354 of Southern Students surveyed did not know that Southern had a radio station.

When asked why there appears to be such a gap between the classical radio station and Southern students, student radio announcer Christina Cannon said that the content is more geared towards those external to campus.

“It’s very community-focused. We’re the only classical music station within a 180-mile radius. So, it’s mostly geared towards getting out there and out to those people versus internally and I wouldn’t think it would take away from it at all if we focused it [internally] as well,” Christina Cannon said.

But it wasn’t always externally focused.  John Beckett, a computer science professor recalls how, through personal experience woking there in the 1970s, the high  involvement that students had with the radio station.

“The station was part of what is now the Journalism department, and it was not unusual for a student to do a 5-minute news broadcast, live, between classes,” Beckett said.

According to former Accent articles, WSMC was first aired in November of 1961. It was jointly operated by the Student Association and the School of Journalism and Communication for educational and cultural programming. In its first year, the station employed 30 individuals, many of them student workers. In fact, an April 20, 1964 Issue of the Accent ran an ad for the radio station that stated, “WARNING SENIORS: As a student at SMC next year, listening to WSMC-FM may become a habit.”

The radio station was referred to as the “Student Voice of Southern Missionary College,” giving it the name WSMC. Student involvement kept growing. In an editorial page published in 1964, “Over eighty students contributed weekly time” to the radio.

Although down to 12-15 student workers 30 years after its start, the radio station was still very much alive and doing well in the early 90s. It was a member of National Public Radio, a finalist for the Crystal Award and raised $66,450 for its annual fund-raising drive. This is in strong contrast with its current annual budget of $400 according to Scott Kornblum, general manager. 

In 1991, former WSMC announcer, Martine Polycarpe, stated, “It’s the best job on campus.”

This sentiment is still carried 28 years later by current senior Edyn-Mae Stevenson, who says, “I have never had a job that I’ve loved more.” 

She credits her three years of experience at the station for giving her an internship at a radio station in Boston.

But in 1995, the station lost its NPR membership due to complaints about its religious content and switched to a classical radio station. With this tread, student involvement slowly dwindled to its current position of five student workers. Budget cuts affected the radio station and in 2013, WSMC briefly considered replacing student workers with automated announcers, though they ultimately dismissed the idea. 


Students such as Kevin Rojas say they enjoy listening to peaceful background music while studying. 

“If I had known Southern provides a classical station that I can listen to on multiple platforms such as iTunes and Spotify, I would have been listening to it while studying all along,” said Kevin Rojas, a senior.

WSMC is currently available through free apps on iPhone, iPad and Android Store app. One can also access it through iTunes internet radio and iHeartMedia.

“Download the app,” said Kornblum. “It’s free and, if you enjoy it, please be an advocate and tell somebody else. And if you really feel passionate about it, you can donate. I hope that WSMC will be a connection to Southern for all of our current students while they’re here, but also after they graduate they’ll enjoy it but 10 years down the road were they are working; whatever they’re doing still be there connection.”

*References the dates on the end of the lines are the issue numbers of the Accent

According to the Old Accents the

  • 1)      WSMC was first sponsors were SA and the college.  Sept. 22, 1960
  • 2)      The accent used to print it’s programs on the Southern Accent ( 1961-
  • 3)      WSMC was jointly operated with SA and communication department with ultimate control the college with ultimate control over the station Nov. 20 1961
  • 4)      It’s purpose was to be an educational and culture programing Nov. 20, 1961
  • 5)      It included college talent organ music, quartets, etc.  particularly in the music departments Feb. 23, 1961
  • 6)      In it’s first year it employed 30 individuals many of them students. Jobs included as script writer operator, music director, program director etc. May 28, 1962
  • 7)      Started Nov. 15, 1991. May 28, 1962
  • 8)      An ad says, “ WARNING SENIORS: As a student at SMC next year, listening to WSMC-FM may become a habit” April 20, 1964
  • 9)      “Over eighty students contributed weekly time to WSMC-FM prove again we aren’t uninterested in student-sponsored work” in an editorial page by Robert Murphy May 7, 1964
  • 10)   It was referred to as “Student Voice of Southern Missionary College” June 9, 1964
  • 11)   In fact it was big enough to sponsor “Collegiate Institute of Student Opinion” 15 min. show, among other things. Dec. 19, 1963
  • 12)   Mentioned in SA Constitution in Feb. 27, 1964
  • 13)   Starts first full-time summer sessions focus on professionalism Nov. 2, 1967
  • 14)   Often when a new program was launched the Accent covered in in the 1960s
  • 15)   In March of 1968 it joined TN state network. March 1, 1968
  • 16)   30 years later the radio station was a finalist for the crystal Award and raised $66,450 dollars in fund raising. 10, 000-15,000 people listening in any 15 minute stretch. 90 mile radius. Connection with All Things Considered NPR Oct. 24, 1991
  • 17)   A former WSMC announcer Martine Polycarpe “It’s the best Job on campus”  12 student Announcers .Mission- “ provide a public service to the are and in doing so break down barriers that cause people to believe Adventists are not really part  of the community. Nov. 21 1991
  • 18)   WSMC forfeits NPR Membership after 24 year membership with NPR.  It was a result of some listeners complaints of all the religious content that “Violated the NPR (national Public Radio) membership agreement.  Sept. 7, 1995
  • 19)   In fund raised $72,347 but they only needed $25,000 less than pervious year because of switch to Public Radio International (PRI) October  19, 1995
  • 20)   White Oak Mountain WSMC tower falls Feb. 2 (Feb. 22, 1996)
  • 21)   Budget cuts affected the radio station and in 2013 WSMC briefly considered replacing student workers with automated announcers Sept. 26, 2013

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