By By Josh Hargett
The sports department at WRHU looks to expand its audience outside of Long Island as it has recently engaged in a landmark partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio. WRHU is the first college radio station to band with Sirius, broadcasting four or five basketball games.
Can't make it out to a Pride game? Never want to miss a piece of the action? Then turn your radio dial to 88.7 FM, because odds are, if you randomly tune in to WRHU, you will hear a live broadcast of one of the Pride's many sports teams.
Having broadcast nine of the university's 18 sports teams over the past year, the WRHU sports department prides itself on providing students and fans coverage of the school's major athletic accomplishments. The sports department gives listeneres a real feel for being at the game.
"If a team is in Tuscaloosa, Ala., like the softball team last year in the NCAA tournament, they can listen to us over the air or on the Internet," Sports Director Pete McCarthy said. McCarthy says if he could, he would broadcast every game. While the department says it tries to do as many games as it can, it's impossible for all of the games to receive coverage. "Whether it's logistical, or it just costs too much, we also need to share air time with other departments," McCarthy said.
In an effort to broaden broadcasting, WRHU has "branched off campus a little bit," carrying games for the NY/NJ Juggernaut of the National Pro Fastpitch League and the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse. In an effort to broadcast all of the games, the sports department has provided broadcasts on three separate outlets: 88.7 FM, WNJB and online.
Over the last couple of years, WRHU's sports department has made tremendous use of the Internet. Both McCarthy and former sports director Jared Greenberg stressed the importance and value the Internet has been for the station and the sports teams.
"We put games on the Internet if we had something else on just to get the games out there," Greenberg said.
Using the Internet to broadcast games has given the station insight into the number of listeners. Most college stations do not receive ratings from Arbitron, the service that radio stations must subscribe to in order to have their ratings registered. Since most stations operate on a shoestring budget, the cost to subscribe to Arbitron is too great to take on. However, the hits counter on the Web site allows the station to determine how many listeners it has. During softball's game in Alabama, Greenberg said the site received a few thousands clicks.
With a staff of about 15-20 the sports department is one of the largest teams at WRHU. The success of the department has been instrumental to the success of WRHU. Despite being a non-profit station, it brings the most sponsors, promoting many University events and local businesses.
Completely run by students, the department offers a great deal of experience for the staff. Professional in Residence Ed Ingles, the only non-student on staff, oversees all operations. Leaving all broadcasting responsibilities to the students, Ingles only provides insight and guidance to staff members.
Providing post game interviews and broadcasting them on the Internet, shows like "The Locker Room" look to bring the audience closer to athletes and coaches. "The Locker Room" is WRHU's sports program, airing Sunday's at 8 p.m. The sports department provides insight and commentary on all intercollegiate sports. Looking to attract the Long Island community, the show also covers all local and professional sports.
The station looks to work closely with the athletes to bring their games and stories to the audience.
"The coaches and athletes have a good relationship with the station. The station usually lets us know in advance when they want to talk to us and it's never a bother," women's soccer player Chrissy Arnone said.
The interaction between staff, athletes and their families created a relaxed and pleasant environment for everyone involved. The families of athletes would tell Greenberg they appreciated it when they would be able to listen to games they couldn't attend. Sometimes the relationship between the station and athletes can become very friendly. "Some of [the athletes] we even hang with or play beer pong," McCarthy said with a laugh.
A major strength of WRHU is that it's the exclusive carrier of University athletics. Unlike most Division I schools, where the student radio stations only broadcast a few select games, WRHU is the primary media outlet.
Over the last few years, graduates from WRHU's sports department have been rather successful in the professional ranks. John Discepolo ('94) is currently the sports anchor for Fox 5 N.Y. Greenberg is currently an anchor for News 12 in the Bronx, in addition to doing some work with NBA TV.
"We are very proud of how we've done post graduation because it's hard to land a job immediately in this field," he said.
The progress that the department has made over the years has made it strive to compete with the successful departments of Syracuse and Fordham.
"We want to be right up there with those schools," Greenberg said.