By Joe Shearer, Reporter
Radio is a classic medium that has seen ups and downs; and like any other form of communication in the digital age, it has had to change to stay relevant.
The same can be said for University of Nebraska at Omaha’s MavRadio.
Out of the clouds of obscurity, and under the lead of a new management team, the student-run radio station is seeking a return to glory.
Early this year, the station received a breath of fresh air, moving out of their cramped space in the Milo Bail Student (MBSC) to the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS), a rightful home with the rest of the broadcasting program.
Michael Petranick, MavRadio program director and assistant general manager, has been with the station since 2012. He got his start while taking Radio Production I with Jodeane Brownlee, professor and MavRadio faculty administrator, but had prior experience in an internship with Clear Channel Communications. Concurrently, he is serving as a producer and on-air talent with the Journal Broadcast Group.
A man of the business, Petranick says MavRadio is starting to sound like a real station since the move. Their old home in MBSC wasn’t suitable for success and their technology was seriously lacking, he said.
“It was kind of a mess,” Petranick said. “The sound board we had was ancient, the mics were decent but not great and the room just wasn’t acoustically-appropriate. But you have to start somewhere.”
Along with the less-than-optimal studio gear, the station had also started to teeter off in regard to general programming and lacked the passion needed in such a niche industry.
Since the station’s move and upgrade, Petranick said that MavRadio has a new sense of identity, along with the appropriate tools to help students succeed after college.
“The quality of education in the School of Communication is so great, and with our upgrade we have new software and hardware that is the industry standard,” Petranick said. “So now the ability to teach and train young students in communication is greatly improved.”
New gear doesn’t just magically fix everything. The station needed leadership to step up and give MavRadio some direction.
“Before [MavRadio’s] move, the station literally was playing the same songs at the same exact times every day,” Petranick said. “A lot of people didn’t like it. MavRadio, back in the day used to be really popular, but it kind of went downhill.”
So Petranick and an impassioned group of students, including present general manager Suzanne Fuhrer, got together, dumped the entire system of music and started to rebuild from scratch.
“Our music is now new and relevant,” Petranick said. “And we’ve narrowed our programming down to a rock/alternative theme, but because we’re student-ran and not-for-profit, we don’t have to answer to anyone. We have the freedom to experiment and explore different ideas.”
With all of that, Petranick said that students can now leave UNO and be ready to hit the ground running, or at least have a solid idea of what’s going on, if they choose to pursue a career in radio.
For those who don’t want to work in radio, Petranick said anyone is welcome to come in, see how the station is run and can even get their own hour-block on the program schedule.
“MavRadio is open to anybody,” he said. “Some of our best specialty shows are run by people who are in completely different degree programs. And with the freedom we have as a non-profit, we can be a little loose with what we play. If a student wants to come in and play 90’s pop, they can do it.”
Petranick has grown and learned a lot in the radio industry in a short amount of time. He said he hopes that his passion can help keep MavRadio current and, most importantly, listened to. Radio isn’t for everyone, but now, with their updated system, caring leaders and refreshed identity, he says students can now get a true industry experience with MavRadio.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the business is that you can’t get into radio because you love music,” Petranick said. “You have to love radio. And I think that the fact that you can explore your own personality and go into work and really have fun, all while listening to great music, is fantastic. I love it.”