WUTS: The Voice of Sewanee
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Long before YouTube and the flooding of the podcast market with daily news round-ups, or the hyper-niche shows about cryptids and antiques, radio was king. Families spent evenings sat around the radio listening to music and evening broadcasts. Though that was far before sophomore Colin Smith’s time, he still sees the appeal today.
Smith works as an assistant manager at WUTS, the student-run radio station on the campus of the University of the South. He is among a group of students who are working to bring radio back into the daily lives of students and Sewaneesians alike.
“I want to make the station something that people love to talk about and come to have a good time,” he said. “That’s what it used to be, and that’s what we want it to go back to.”
Smith, who has been on staff at the station since his freshman year, said being at WUTS — and supporting the different shows — has been one of the highlights of his Sewanee experience. From helping with the production of the weekly conspiracy theory show to hosting his own Fleetwood Mac-themed show, Smith said WUTS has given him a creative outlet.
“The station is my life. I love being in here. The equipment, it’s not new or sleek—a lot of it has remained the same since the 60s or the 70s—and that is just part of the draw,” he said. “Working here has introduced me to so much new music, and I’ve learned a lot about radio in general. When I was growing up, our station was just classic rock. That is it. Here, you can do pretty much whatever you want. There’s so much room to be creative.”
KT Pritchard, a sophomore and assistant manager, said the same. Pritchard said the radio station provides an opportunity to learn something new everyday. One thing she has learned since starting at the station is that the station’s ghost is most likely a former NBC executive.
“We are 99 percent sure it’s Niles Trammell, an alumnus who was the president for NBC. He serves as a guardian for the place mostly, but sometimes he will flick lights on when you talk about him, and sometimes he will shut doors to remind you that he’s there,” she said. “Niles inspires us to do our best at the station so that we don’t upset him. Aside from the ghost, I love the freedom that the DJs have here. Even though we have FCC guidelines to follow, you can pretty much say and play what you want, which allows for creativity and diversity in the shows here.”
For students like Pritchard who value the ability to create and explore the different elements of production, Hilary Ward, WUTS faculty advisor and managing director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, said she hopes to expand the station’s programming into a year-round endeavor.
“As it stands now, we are only operable during the academic year, and we would love to be able to better support the community through advertisements and public announcements for all of the great activities we have going on,” Ward said. “The station is fully staffed by students and that is something we are really proud of. I hope we are able to continue with this momentum in semesters and years to come.”
Find WUTS on the radio dial at 91.3FM.