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WGLT experiences exciting changes

WGLT microphones on a table.

For the past year, WGLT, ISU’s NPR affiliate housed under the School of Communication, has experienced significant changes and is anticipating exciting new opportunities on the horizon. This unique moment for WGLT includes a recently merging with another station, securing prestigious awards, and hosting a special “Radio Faces” event.

On June 1, 2019, WGLT assumed operations of the Bradley University radio station, WCBU-FM in Peoria. Because WGLT has seen remarkable success in the last seven years by preserving local programming and news and WCBU was at risk of losing its localism, the merger seemed like a promising idea that has now become a reality.

As WGLT General Manager R. C. McBride explains, “Operational roles will be combined with staff in Bloomington-Normal, but there will be staff committed solely to WCBU and they will be housed on Bradley’s campus.” This means that both stations will still retain their separate call letters and FM frequencies, but the programmatic, personnel, and financial operations will be streamlined.

According to Executive Director of the School of Communication Steve Hunt this relationship “benefits both stations and universities, but it also shows how WGLT’s success has made it uniquely poised to be a leader for Illinois radio.”

WGLT’s recent success transcends its leadership position and capability to secure local programming. At the 2019 Illinois State Civic Engagement Celebration, WGLT was honored with the Unit/Department Award for civic engagement. WGLT and the School of Communication are extremely proud to have been recognized for WGLT’s outstanding contributions to civic engagement and demonstrating the university’s core value. The award highlights WGLT’s local election forums and hosting a series of Community Conversations that brought community members together for discussions on gun violence, journalism, and youth mental health.

Additionally, in the past year WGLT has won a number of prestigious Associated Press (AP) awards, including Best Investigative Report (Ryan Denham and Mary Cullen for their piece on “police diverge on approach to speeding tickets”), Best Reporter (Ryan Denham), Best Series of Documentary (second place for “Skipping School: Illinois’ Teacher Shortage”), Best Newscast (Charlie Schlenker), Best Sports Report (second place for Eric Stock’s “Friday Night Lights Out: Football’s Uncertain Future”), and Best Digital Presence (second place for recognizing excellence in overall content). The station was also recognized as the “Outstanding News Operation,” that evaluators called “a clear winner in an otherwise difficult category to judge.” Since 1997, WGLT has received over 100 Illinois AP journalism awards.

Lastly, WGLT is proud to announce it will be hosting its annual “Radio Faces” event that features a nationally-acclaimed NPR correspondent. This year WGLT invited Korva Coleman for the 15th annual affair. The evening brings together academics, journalists, and local organizations to network and recognize NPR’s important work. It is sponsored by COUNTRY Financial. This year’s guest of honor, Korva Coleman, has been with NPR since 1990 and currently serves as a newscaster, most often heard during “Morning Edition.”

For more information or to become involved, please visit the WGLT webpage.

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