Otterbein’s WOBN Received FCC License Renewal, Keeping Station On-Air for 72 Years

Posted Nov 20, 2020

Otterbein University’s student-run radio station, 97.5 FM WOBN, recently completed the process of renewing its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadcast license — a strenuous undertaking that Otterbein students have been through many times in the station’s 72 years on air. 

Every eight years, the FCC requires all radio stations go through a three-month license renewal process. A station must make on-air public service announcements (PSAs) announcing the process and allowing the listening audience to add their comments to the application. The Emergency Alert System is also tested, and documentation of tests and other station issues must be provided. 

A major overall component to the renewal, says Professor and WOBN Faculty Advisor Eric Jones, is to prove the station provides a service to the community. 

“WOBN gives students the means to learn competitive skills in the current job market by maintaining state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and software,” Jones said. “Through our coverage of sports, current affairs, music, interviews with community leaders, volunteer opportunities and student information campaigns, we’ve been showing how WOBN has been vital to the community since 1948.” 

With the successful completion of the license renewal, WOBN continues to be one of the oldest continually run FM radio stations in the state of Ohio. However, demonstrating to the FCC their service to the community and making the studio usable was more difficult than ever before because of the pandemic. 

“We had to make some major changes to how we approached staff and class scheduling, as well as content production,” said WOBN Station Manager Hannah Brown ’22. “We put strict cleaning procedures for studio users to complete during the new 30-minute break between shows. We also extended our studio space with a second room separated by a glass window, keeping the broadcast engineers and DJs safe.” 

Any other license renewal year, Otterbein athletics plays a significant role in the community service category. With the Ohio Athletic Conference’s decision to suspend all fall sports, WOBN was left with a significant void to fill on the application, so the students got creative.  

They dedicated their 24-hour radio marathon for College Radio Day on Oct. 2 to voting information for local elections all the way up to the presidential contest, PSAs on how and where to vote, and ways to register. Show hosts also reached out to the community for more special guest interviews, including Otterbein President John Comerford presenting his personal playlist and even 1980s rockers Huey Lewis and the News. 

Brandao and Revish
Evan Brandao (left) interviews WBNS 10TV Anchor Jerry Revish during his show The Boulevard at WOBN Studios. Photo taken before mask mandate.

“We had to find new ways to connect with the listeners. Through hard work and our radio family pulling together in a time of need, we made it work despite all the regulations and challenges,” Brown said. 

Jones emphasizes that it truly the students and the relationships that continue post-graduation that make WOBN what it has been and will continue to be. 

“WOBN is proud celebrate the success of the many students and alumni who have built a strong sense of camaraderie during our first 72 years of operation. We’re hoping that the next 72 will be just as inspirational, gratifying and fruitful,” Jones said. 

Listen live to WOBN on their website.