Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Hoping Osprey Radio Can Take Flight; the College Station Has Struggled to Establish Its Presence on Airwaves

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Hoping Osprey Radio Can Take Flight; the College Station Has Struggled to Establish Its Presence on Airwaves

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT COLEMAN

Technical difficulties don't even begin to describe it.

The University of North Florida's student-run radio station has been struggling to find its place on the Jacksonville campus since its inception in 1993.

The station has never established a presence on the dial. Financial problems and a general lack of campus support saw to that.

Osprey Radio instead bounced from broadcasting on cable TV to streaming on the Internet. Shoddy equipment, staff upheavals and poor formatting choices left the station as little more than a campus novelty.

With Jacksonville University radio also online-only, the closest this area has ever gotten to true college radio is Flagler College's station in St. Augustine.

But times have changed, and UNF student media adviser John Timpe believes Osprey Radio is ready to take flight.

"This is probably the brightest point in the station's existence," he said. "We have the means to do things that never would have been possible five or 10 years ago."

That optimism springs from a potentially fate-changing bit of federal legislation. The Local Community Radio Act would eliminate the minimum distance separation between low-power FM stations and big commercial stations, freeing things up for small campus operations.

There hasn't been much movement since the bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in December, but Timpe said station staffers have been preparing for its possible passage. They've commissioned a dial search to identify locally available frequencies and they've asked U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., for his support.

"This would be a big thing for the campus," Timpe said, "but the entire city would benefit from having a viable student radio station."

On-air broadcasting equipment would cost about $500,000. If the bill passes, Timpe plans to request the money from UNF's student government, which funds some student positions at the station.

But senior Nadine Robertson, the station's student manager, said she's not trying to get ahead of herself.

"It'd be amazing if we get on air, but for now I just want to get our name out there more," she said. …

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