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SIUE's silent for now on fate of WSIE 88.7, the Jazz Station

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 8, 2009 - First, classical music fans began worrying whether they would be losing their radio station. Now, jazz fans are fretting over the same concern.

WSIE, at 88.7 on the FM dial and known as the Jazz Station, operates out of the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University. A campus committee, which convened to consider the future of the station, has turned its recommendations in to Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift.

John Danley, acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the committee, declined to elaborate on what it may have recommended or to speculate on what decision may be made about the station. Bethany Forsythe, a campus spokeswoman, said the panel was set up "to look at ways to attract a broader audience."

She emphasized that no decision has been made to change its jazz format or close it down altogether. No timetable has been set for a decision.

But such assurances have done little to soothe concerns of fans who had heard through the jazz grapevine that their on-air music fix was in jeopardy. The buzz even led to a Facebook group -- SAVE 88.7 THE JAZZ STATION -- with 418 members as of mid-afternoon on Friday.

And despite the lack of hard information, they weren't shy about expressing strong opinions:

"That station is home to thousands of Jazz legends whose music otherwise would have no public outlet in this town. It's time to let the administration know how we feel!"

"I've lived in many jazz cities in the US, and WSIE is in the top three of best jazz stations in the country, I believe. A major jazz city without a jazz station? Insulting."

"Thank you thank you thank you. What are they thinking!"

While jazz fans are fretting over the future of WSIE, classical music aficionados have nothing new about the future of the only local station playing their favorite music, KFUO.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which owns the station, is continuing the process of exploring its possible sale. A synod spokesman has said he hopes that any sale would include the continuation of the classical format, but that could not be guaranteed.

On Friday, David Strand, executive director of communications for the synod, which is based in Kirkwood, said the process is continuing.

"All I can say is, I've got nothing new to report," Strand said. "There's no imminent decision, there's no timeline in place to arrive at a decision."

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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