Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Though they may not be aware, listeners tuned to 106.9 from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. weekdays are hearing a college classroom.
With the primary purpose of a commercial radio station complete with paid advertising, WXER also serves as a learning lab for students in Meridian Community College’s Broadcast Communications Program.
“You’re waking up with Roy and Ryan in the morning on 106.9 the Eagle,” said Robby Atkinson, program director for the campus radio station, into a microphone as he was completing a three-hour shift with a new student assistant. “Rob’s a great guy,” said MCC freshman Ryan Johnson, “we bounce off each other well.”
When Johnson, 23, a resident of Thomasville, Ala., came to campus for his studies, he approached Atkinson wanting to work with him at WEXR. Johnson didn’t come empty handed; he had logged in three years of work a country music radio station in his hometown and he garnered radio show hosting experience.
“I really wanted to further my education in broadcasting, so I came, got involved in the program and met Rob.
“Rob offered me the chance (to work with the station) and I decided to take it,” Johnson said. “I enjoy being in radio. Anyway I could get myself out there is fine.”
Atkinson acknowledges students working on the station are beneficial for both station and students. “That’s a good thing about Ryan… he’s worked in radio before. He knows the basics and more,” he said.
The program begins at 6 each morning and Johnson arrives to the show an hour later. “We want students to focus on their academic studies,” Atkinson said, “His (Johnson’s) schedule happened to work.” This semester Johnson is enrolled full time, taking 13 semester credit hours.
Josh Taylor, Broadcast Communication Technology Program coordinator, said the pairing of students with real work experience is just one of the ways in which they’re integrating students to the station for practical experience.
“I love to talk,” Johnson said. “It’s a form of expression I really enjoy. I like to entertain.”
For now he’s gaining more experience and plans to return for his sophomore year. Who knows what’s on the horizon? “Maybe syndication,” Johnson said with a laugh.