Dec. 19, 2000
by Greg Ladky
For the past two decades, Notre Dame’s student radio station, WVFI, could only be heard inside the campus community. However, on October 11 of this year, WVFI switched to global broadcasting.
WVFI had been conducting broadcasts over the Internet since the summer of 1999, but in order to listen, one needed to access the Notre Dame network on a computer. Now, by simply logging onto the Internet and going to wvfi.nd.edu, listeners can hear student broadcasts from anywhere in the world.
Prior to Internet broadcasting, WVFI’s equipment and broadcasting range were far inferior to the student body stations of other top academic institutions around the nation. WVFI aired music shows along with Notre Dame football and men’s basketball games through an AM (AM 620) carrier system. From the basement of the LaFortune Student Center, the station’s signal could be heard in the dorms by actually plugging a radio into an electrical outlet.
However, the carrier system slowly deteriorated, and only a handful of the campus’ dorms were able to tune into the station’s broadcasts. Due to its outdated system, WVFI shut down in the fall of 1998. The station’s management decided not to go back on the air until they had the means to reach at least the entire Notre Dame campus.
Today, the days of outdated equipment and poor range seem far in the past for the WVFI staff. The switch to global broadcasting has put WVFI on the same level with the other top student radio stations in the country. Obviously, the entire station will reap benefits, but the switch allows WVFI sports to expand coverage of Notre Dame athletics, as well as continue their broadcasts of Notre Dame football through www.und.com, Notre Dame’s official athletic website. For the past two seasons, a partnership between WVFI and the FANSonly Network has allowed Notre Dame to run the student football broadcast through www.und.com. The partnership has enabled these broadcasts to become the most demanded Internet broadcasts in college football. FANSonly Network allows the WVFI sports crew to travel, conducting broadcasts for every road football game. “The demand for WVFI’s broadcasts is great. We even get letters from Notre Dame alumni saying they turn down their televisions just to listen to us. They like the excitement and enthusiasm of Notre Dame students broadcasting their team’s games,” WVFI sports director C.J. Murray says. Murray noted the student broadcaster’s ability to convey “the campus feel.” The student broadcasters can offer insight into the everyday life of players, something the other media outlets cannot present.
“We live with these players,” Murray said.
“We take the same test, eat the same food and go to the same social outings as the players. WVFI has the advantage of being able to talk about the simple things in the players lives, not just stats and game strategy.”
Before the switch to global broadcasting, WVFI only brought football, and occasionally men’s basketball, to a limited audience inside the campus boundaries. With the transition to the World Wide Web, WVFI will broadcast home games of several Notre Dame teams, such as hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse and basketball, as well as baseball. Every men’s basketball game will be on the air, but in effort to maintain the station’s music-first orientation, WVFI probably will not cover every single home sporting event.
However, evidence of WVFI’s expanded sports coverage occurred immediately after the switch. WVFI quickly began coverage of Notre Dame women’s soccer as they fought through the BIG EAST and NCAA tournament games played at Notre Dame. The FANSonly Network caught on to the excitement and distributed the broadcast through und.com. Whether or not FANSonly gets involved, the student broadcasts can always be heard on WVFI’s website.
Murray was quick to point out the switch to global broadcasting and WVFI’s expanded coverage allows family and friends of athletes to listen to live broadcasts of games.
“Before now, no one could hear the games. A lot of the switch is for the family and friends of the athletes.”
In addition to varsity athletics, WVFI covers several intramural events, such as the men’s and women’s interhall championships and the Bengal Bouts. Murray feels these broadcasts further relay the campus feel to the Notre Dame community around the world.
“Parents of college athletes are used to seeing their child receive media attention, but it’s really exciting for a parent of a regular student to log onto the Internet and listen to their child compete.”
WVFI strives to reach as many people as possible, and coverage of intramural athletics grabs the attention of even more listeners. In order to cue into WVFI’s broadcasts of sports, music, or news, listeners must have Internet access and Real Player installed in their computers.