GV introduces new AM radio station to campus community


GVL / Aubree Wagner

Josh Alburtus, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s multimedia journalism program is diving into the world of AM radio to bring new opportunities to students looking for real-world experience.

Constructed this summer, AM 900 WLSX, or “The X,” will be integrated into the classwork of GVSU’s Introduction to Radio course that has been offered to students for the last ten years. Students will work through the class to manage the station. Len O’Kelly, a professor in GVSU’s School of Communications and architect of the station, will oversee the work of the students as the instructor of the Introduction to Radio class.

“The students who are in the Introduction to Radio class will work on this radio station and this will be their lab to get their hands-on training,” O’Kelly said. “Students in that class, by the end of that semester, have the material to go to work in broadcasting.”

The AM station will join student-run WCKS, or “Whale Radio,” as the only other radio station operating on GVSU’s campus. In creating WLSX, O’Kelly, who also acts as the faculty advisor for WCKS, wanted to ensure that students weren’t missing out on any experience needed to make it in the field.

“[WLSX] is designed to be much more like what a student would experience either going into an internship or even going into a first part-time job,” O’Kelly said. “It’s more of a real-world feel.”

While WCKS provides interested students similar chances for hands-on learning, O’Kelly wanted to ensure that each station came with its own opportunities.  

“If the only experience that they’ve had has been the student-run setting,” O’Kelly said. “They go to an internship or they go to a job and they’re very surprised to find that they don’t get to just do what they want on the air.”

To counter such an imbalance, the professor made it a point to utilize different formats for the different stations.

“A lot of the shows that are on [WCKS] are talk shows, sports shows, things like that,” O’Kelly said. “This station is executing a music format and the personalities, the students who are working on that, will be executing the music format.”

According to O’Kelly, not only will the new station offer experience to students through a music format, but it will also provide important information to the GVSU community during different events throughout the year.  

WLSX, he said, could switch to act as an informational station for certain instances like football games and campus move-in weeks when parking directions and other information would benefit listeners.

Thanks to O’Kelly’s efforts, students of the Introduction to Radio course are eager to get to work on the station.  Students like Gabriela Garbey, enrolled in this year’s Introduction to Radio course, are looking forward to gaining what they believe to be invaluable experience through the station.

“I think that doing and participating in a radio station my first year in college will definitely give me the confidence and the bringing of new experiences for me to bring that into my field of work when I graduate,” Garbey said.

WLSX “The X” is already up and running and reaches GVSU’s entire Allendale campus.  Tune into AM 900 to hear it in action.