Jackson State University’s WJSU receives $450K from Corporation for Public Broadcasting to expand public radio music format for young, multicultural audiences

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University’s WJSU radio station will receive $450K from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of a $1.3 million grant CPB is allocating to three public radio stations. Funds will be used to implement an Urban Alternative format to connect with young, multicultural audiences.

Jackson State University’s staff at WJSU consists of, clockwise, DeShun Nance, Dale Morris, Cynthia Maxie Milton, Anthony Dean and Meredith Hairston. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

WJSU will also use the proceeds to support transitions to locally customized formats using local and national Hip Hop and R&B.

“This grant will certainly be a benefit to our students within the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. I appreciate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s thoughtfulness and generosity. As a result, we will be able to elevate our resources, broaden our reach, and have a transformative impact on public radio,” said Thomas K. Hudson, president of Jackson State University.

Dr. Elayne H. Anthony

Chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies Dr. Elayne H. Anthony expressed pride over WJSU’s selection for the grant. “Our students stand to gain an abundance of hands-on experience in the area of public radio,” she said.

CPB support for research and development in 2015 enabled Chicago Public Media to transform its Vocalo online music service into Chicago’s Urban Alternative. The research created a model format that borrows from the popularity of urban contemporary music while remaining true to public radio’s values, connecting urban audiences through music discovery and community engagement.

Anthony Dean

“We are grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for affording WJSU the opportunity to reach a new generation of listeners—The Urban Alternative Grant will allow WJSU-FM to capitalize on its current solid foundation in public radio and expand its range to a larger local and worldwide audience, said Anthony Dean, general manager of WJSU-FM. With this expansion, WJSU-FM will grow to be a much stronger force and a true leader in the public radio arena.”

With CPB support, Rocky Mountain Public Media adopted the Urban Alternative format in Denver, the DROP, KTSU/The Vibe in Houston, and WNSB/Blazin’ Hot 91 in Norfolk, VA.

“The Urban Alternative format has been built by and for a new generation of public radio listeners — a younger, multicultural community that is creating its own public media sound,” said Kathy Merritt, CPB senior vice president of Radio, Journalism and CSG Services. “CPB is proud to support the expansion of this format, in which the stations are meeting the music and information needs of young, diverse audiences as trusted partners.”

Under the two-year grant:

WJSU will refresh its programming to reflect the changing interests of students and younger listeners, provide a path to long-term sustainability, and increase community collaborations and digital engagement. WJSU will also pursue a multi-platform strategy, including some FM broadcast, a dedicated 24-hour digital channel and a mobile app.

As dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. K.B. Turner applauds the efforts of the leadership and staff of WJSU and the Department of Journalism and Media Studies “for their vision — leading the way and opening critical doors for our staff and students.”

Radio Milwaukee and Minnesota Public Radio are also benefactors of the CPB grant.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.