MSUToday
Published: Nov. 18, 2019

Celebrating Impact 89FM’s 30th anniversary

By: Zach Richardson richa954@msu.eduContact(s): Beth Brauer University Communications Beth.Brauer-Delaney@cabs.msu.edu

This year marks the 30th anniversary of MSU’s student radio station, Impact 89FM. Available at 88.9FM, Impact is one of the longest-running student radio stations in the country.

Today, Impact 89FM has flourished, growing into a massive student organization with content ranging from music, athletics, variety shows and more.

Impact’s mission statement has been and continues to be “promoting education, professionalism in presentation and diversity in programming.”

Early days

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the network, originally called the Michigan State Network, operated from various student housing locations before being consolidated under one umbrella station.

In 1989, Impact’s official radio designation, WDBM, was born. The station was initially based in the MSU Auditorium, in WKAR’s former studio, before moving to Holden Hall in 1995. The studio has been located there ever since.

Jeremy Whiting, an MSU and Impact alum, is now general manager of the station. It’s his job to advise student leadership on content decisions, oversee daily operations and ensure the station follows all university and federal guidelines.

“In the early days, there was always a live DJ in the studio 24 hours a day,” Whiting said. “With the addition of computer automation software in the mid-2000s, DJs have been able to pre-record some shifts. It is rare to find a DJ doing a 2 to 6 a.m. shift these days. While the technology has changed considerably over that time, the process is still very similar.”

A modern station

Impact looks miles different in 2019 than it did in 1989. As technology has advanced, Impact has branched out to be more than just a radio station. The organization has embraced content that is quintessential to modern entertainment and news-sharing.

Impact produces podcasts on topics ranging from athletics to current events. Students write stories, spanning from music they enjoy — including “hidden gem” artists or songs — to athletic updates on campus and around the world. Impact’s video content, available on their website and YouTube channel, includes live and in-studio performances from a range of musical artists.

“The staff continues to look for ways to grow and stay relevant,” Whiting said. “That has led to a variety of evening specialty music shows, a talk block of programming on Sundays for student groups and community nonprofits to promote their organizations, and an increased emphasis on online distribution channels.”

Amber Kienutske, an MSU student and Impact’s program director, said the heart of Impact has remained the same despite the technological changes.

“In terms of the culture, I’m not sure much has changed; we're still a bunch of weird kids in a basement talking about music,” she said.

Student success

“Impact is truly the students’ station; they are responsible for running it and guiding the content,” Whiting said. “We want Impact to be a home for those looking for a fun, inclusive environment where students can pursue their interest in radio and digital media as a career or hobby.”

Impact has given Kienutske and other students valuable insight into what they would enjoy doing as a career.

“I've learned that I like working in almost any area of media after dabbling in all our different teams,” she said. “Radio is still alive. I could be a part of the generation that helps it grow again, which is an exciting thought that I'll carry with me after graduation.”

Interested students can get involved by filling out a volunteer application at impact89fm.org.

Impact 89FM has flourished, growing into a massive student organization with content ranging from music, athletics, variety shows and more.