Story by Bridget Gibley, Reporter
Photo courtesy of WYCE
Getting tired of listening to the same songs on your iPod over and over? Looking for a way to discover new music, but without the commercials on Pandora or Spotify? You might want to give a local radio station a try. 88.1 WYCE is a Grand Rapids station that plays a wide variety of music—anything from folk to rock to jazz. And they have programs 24/7, so you’ll never find yourself lacking music.
The station began in Wyoming, MI in the 1980s. It was run through the Wyoming Community Education System, the source of the call letters WYCE. It became part of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center in 1987 (for those of you doing the math, that means 2017 will be their 30th anniversary).
All programmers at WYCE are volunteers, meaning that no one gets paid—but this doesn’t scare away potential workers. They have almost 90 volunteers currently. Additionally, they are a noncommercial station, so they build funding through on-air underwriting, which is similar to advertising but without the “call to action” part of the ad. Underwriting is more of an announcement of a sponsorship than an actual advertisement for a product or company.
WYCE Station Manager Quinn Mathews points out that the station is “literally run by the community.”
Listeners can support the station by donating during drive or by volunteering.
Volunteers at the station take classes on programming music and then get the opportunity to play the music they love on the air, which is part of the reason for the wide variety of music played at WYCE.
Although WYCE streams worldwide, they are very focused on the community of Grand Rapids. One special show, Local Spins, highlights bands and performers from West Michigan not only through playing their music, but also through interviews and live performances from the studio.
Another local aspect of the station is a show called Catalyst Radio, which is broadcast every week. It is a public affairs radio program, so it includes information and interviews about local organizations, community issues, and social change.
The WYCE website lists the playlists different programmers use on the air, and it really does seem like there is something for everyone, from the Avett Brothers and Nina Simone to the Black Keys to the Chenille Sisters.
This radio station is perfect for finding new bands and rediscovering old favorites. As Mathews says, “The format is a mix of everything and not just hits, also deep cuts and rarities to normal radio stations.”
The implication there is that 88.1 WYCE is not a normal radio station. And from the mix of music in their library, the volunteer-run aspect of the station, and their deep involvement in the local music scene, it doesn’t seem normal. It seems better.