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Manchester radio station graduates to online presence

WBKE towerNORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Created more than 60 years ago, the Manchester University campus radio station is moving in a whole new direction. Off the radio.

“WBKE is evolving into an audio-video streaming and podcasting organization that will better serve students' aspirations, and it will be provided in a format that students will watch, listen to, and participate in – much as they did in WBKE's early years,” said Judd Case, who oversees WBKE's operations and is department chair of Communication Studies at the University.

The station first hit the air as a science project for physics students and broadcast experience for speech students. Back then, only the campus community could hear what was then named WMIB because the station was hardwired to Manchester buildings.

In 1968, student station manager Mike Emrick and faculty advisor Ronald Aungst worked to obtain a Federal Communications Commission license, and the station transformed into a professional learning tool and an asset for the entire North Manchester community. The station was named WBKE to represent the last names of three previous station managers: Brent Barkman, David Kistler and Emrick.

“We graduated from AM to WBKE,” said Emrick in a 2008 Manchester magazine story. “It was more serious programming and there was more real broadcasting.”  Emrick went on to become an internationally respected network television play-by-play sportscaster and commentator most well known for his work in ice hockey. 

WBKE had been a fully functional station at 89.5-FM that simulcast with a northeast Indiana affiliate of NPR, licensed by the FCC for non-commercial, educational programming. Its license will be relinquished on Friday, June 24, although it went off the air earlier as part of a normal summer shutdown. 

WBOI will continue to provide NPR programming in the North Manchester area at 89.1-FM, and Case said its signal should be clearer once WBKE is out of the way.

An exact date for the new operation to begin and its name have not yet been finalized. More information will be released as details become available.

"The move to streaming and podcasting is a move that will enable us to cover more campus and community events, and to do so in a way that can involve students and the community,” Case said. “I'm working for video coverage of sporting and other campus events, and am excited for the future. The spirit of WBKE is very much alive."

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,500 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics, Master of Athletic Training and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy.  Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu.

June 2016