More than Music

Student-run radio station WLOY blends music with giving back to the community for a unique student experience

Loyola’s own WLOY was recently named among the top 10 national college radio stations at the 2012 mtvU Woodie Awards. Presented in March at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, this annual show encourages U.S. college students to vote for the award winners, including best artist, best breakout artist, best video, and best college radio station. Although WLOY did not make it to number one, the nomination highlights the success of the program and growing national attention.

This isn’t the first time the program has won recognition. In 2010, WLOY was selected as “Club of the Year” by the Green & Grey Society. In 2011, they won an award for “Best Community Involvement: What Happens Next?” at the National Student Production Awards and were nominated into the top 25 college stations at the mtvU Woodie Awards.

WLOY was started in 2002 by Fr. Michael Braden and John Devecka, now the operations manager. On March 19, 2003, the station began full-time year-round broadcasting. The station is run by a board of 12 students and involves more than 50 student volunteers as DJs and support staff.

More than just popular music, the station offers listeners weekly live performances by local Baltimore bands; sports talk; a financial aid program; Both Feet In, a national award-winning program focusing on homelessness in Baltimore; What Happens Next, a children’s literacy builder; old-time radio shows; and more.

WLOY’s commitment to community service is what makes the radio station rise above its competition. WLOY co-founded the Baltimore Community Radio Coalition to develop and support radio-focused educational projects in Baltimore. The weekly children’s program, What Happens Next?, works with 6-12-year-olds in Baltimore to increase literacy, imagination, and communication skills. A recent episode of Both Feet In, “A Bench is not a Bed,” documented students sleeping overnight on the Baltimore streets to raise awareness of homelessness and it won both the 2011 National Student Production Awards Best Podcast and the 2011 Associated Collegiate Press Best of Show Podcast Awards. Both programs have been selected again as finalists for national awards in 2012.

WLOY’s fundraising focuses on educational outreach and supports a wide variety of programs in Baltimore. When major disasters strike, however, WLOY shifts its focus to the world’s needs. In 2005, the then small staff of WLOY raised more than $10,000 to support the rebuilding of Xavier University in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, WLOY rallied the entire University and raised more than $22,000 for Catholic Relief Services operations in Haiti. Students involved in WLOY truly embrace the concept of “men and women for others.”

This year, WLOY fundraising financed the creation and operation of a newspaper, Word on the Street, an independent, non-profit newspaper led by those currently or formerly homeless, while providing a source of income for vendors. The paper is already selling nearly 5,000 copies quarterly!

WLOY graduates are involved in broadcast operations nationwide from NBC to The Golf Channel, and many have gone on to advanced studies in the fields of public relations, communication, and law. For all of them, the intensive real-world work experience at WLOY has served as a building block in their success.

For more information on WLOY or to listen, visit http://www.wloy.org.