College cuts radio station funding

The fate of Dream 97.5, the college ra­dio station, remains unknown weeks after MCCC chose not to renew its partnership with Monroe Public Schools.

“Everyone’s trying to work together on a solution. We’d love to keep this radio station alive as long as possible,” said Joe Verkennes, MCCC’s director of market­ing. “It’s a great asset to the school.”

MCCC officials told representatives of Monroe Public Schools via conference call on June 16 that the partnership would be ending on July 1. A letter had also been sent prior to that.

The partnership dates to 2004, when Monroe High School was faced with bud­get cuts and low enrollment. To keep the station running, the high school formed a partnership with MCCC that allowed students from the college’s radio broad­casting program to use it for learning and experience.

In exchange, the college was to pay all costs associated with operating and main­taining Dream 97.5, effective January 2005.

Faced with three years of declining rev­enues, MCCC chose not to fund Dream 97.5 in its 2011-2012 budget and to ter­minate the position of radio station tech­nician, held by Milward Beaudry, who also teaches the college’s radio and TV courses.

“There’s difficult decisions to be made,” Verkennes said.

Beaudry declined to comment, referring questions to Verkennes.

The college expects to save $31,290 by cutting the program.

Despite the cuts, Verkennes said MCCC will continue to teach radio broadcasting, as long as enough students enroll in the program.

The Radio and Broadcasting Club is also expected to continue, pending student interest.

“We see the value of maintaining the station, even though we don’t have the de­mand from students” said Robert Vergiels, Monroe Public Schools’ public relations director.

With MCCC’s involvement ending, the high school has taken steps to keep Dream 97.5 on the air.

A five-week agreement was reached to keep the station manned through August, and the school intends to broadcast the first MHS football game of the season on August 26.

MHS has also been actively seeking a new partner to keep the station going, and is currently expecting proposals from two local entities.

Bill LaVoy, director of Monroe Public Access Cable Television (MPACT), has confirmed that IMPACT has submitted a proposal to assume control of the station.

The current proposal has a provision that would allow college students to continue using the station for educational purposes.