By Jack Reinhard | Facebook: @JohnJackReinhard
As Centenary University celebrates its 150th anniversary and begins a new chapter as a university, a lesser known part of the school is also evolving. WNTI radio, which in December will be celebrating 59 years in operation, continues its transformation from a small local radio station to one that can be heard around the world thanks to the internet.
On Dec. 8, 1958 WNTI went on the air for the first time broadcasting as an FM station over a local frequency and would continue to operate that way for 56 years. WNTI’s initial location was in the Seay Building, the oldest building on campus. What was once a small station run by women since Centenary was originally a women’s college, WNTI has evolved dramatically over the years. Now you can see both men and women volunteering at the station.
By 2011, the WNTI studio in the Seay Building was starting to show its age and the station moved to the new state-of-the-art David and Carol Lackland Center. It would go on to broadcast from this location as a public radio station on 91.9 FM for five more years until Centenary announced it had agreed to sell its broadcast license in 2015.
The University of Pennsylvania had been purchasing various small radio stations and WNTI became one of them. In October 2015 WNTI was officially sold for $1.25 million to WXPN 88.5 FM. This deal also included $500,000 in underwriting value over the course of 10 years.
After the sale was completed, WNTI continued to operate as an internet-only radio station. The change forced the station to change its broadcast format to better suit its new listening audience.
“With an internet station your audience is worldwide since anyone can listen and we have already seen that with WNTI,” said WNTI Director Richard Hinchliffe.
Hinchliffe came to Centenary University in the fall of 2016, after working at other college and professional radio stations including, Bloomberg, CBS Radio News and WNYC. He did not witness the whole WNTI transition from public to internet radio, but one person who did was 2007 Centenary University graduate and current operations manager, John Del Re.
“It was quite a challenge,” admitted Del Re. He mentioned how the station could still use the same equipment, however they had to entirely change their delivery method with no antenna and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fees to pay. Now listeners can hear WNTI via the station’s website and the TuneIn app, which allows listeners to use devices such as cell phones, tablets, the Amazon Fire TV and Blu-Tooth stereos.
Now that WNTI is an internet-only station, it allows for much more student involvement. Students now oversee the station’s different departments including sports, news and music. The one person who coordinates all of that is sophomore communications student Katie Peters. She is now hosting her second show on WNTI called “Now Playing”, which is about the latest and most popular movies. Originally she had not planned on getting involved with WNTI while attending Centenary University, but things changed.
“Being involved with WNTI has changed my path in college. With my passion for movies, I just started to get involved that way. Then that led to me becoming news director for all of last year and now I’m programming director. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, too. If I get a job in radio, this experience is really going to pay off,” said Peters.
She is not the only one looking forward to the future though, Richard Hinchliffe says that the station itself has a lot to look forward to. “Just the energy these students bring is great and the future is looking bright for us. Especially when you’re situated on a great college campus, like Centenary getting students involved every day. There are always new ideas floating around and it’s something you don’t find everywhere. I look forward to every day because I know something new is always going to be happening around here and this energy keeps us going,” said Hinchliffe.
To learn listen and learn more about WNTI Internet Radio, please visit their website, wnti.org.