WMCX 88.9 FM, Monmouth University’s student-run radio station, was recently recognized as the No. 18 Best College Radio Station in the Princeton Review’s annual guide, “The Best 386 Colleges.”
Based solely on student surveys, the Princeton Review ranks colleges and universities in 62 categories covering eight general areas: Academics/Administration; Quality of Life; Politics; Campus Life; Town Life; Extracurriculars; Social Scene; and Schools by Type. Each ranking list reports the top 20 colleges (of the 386 in the book) in a specific category. This is the first time WMCX has broken into the rankings.
“To hear that WMCX came in at No. 18 made me extremely proud,” said station Program Manager Shadiyah Belton, a senior music industry major. “The executive board and staff are an eclectic bunch who all have differing opinions and perspectives on life but are able to come together for the love of radio. The X has given me a place where I can truly express myself and spread joy through the music that I love.”
Sean Gerhard, a senior communication (TV/radio) major who serves as sports director for WMCX, agrees. “This is what we expect,” he said. “We work really hard and we have the best advisors on campus. And you don’t have to be a comm major to join, so that brings in so many different ideas.”
Gerhard, who has been involved with WMCX for more than three years—two as a member of the station’s executive board—also spoke about the benefits of near-instant practical experience for students.
“One of the things that I think is so great about WMCX is that you could be a freshman and get on-air in the first or second week you’re here on campus. It’s not like that at a lot of other places. It’s one of the reasons I chose to come to Monmouth,” Gerhard said. “The first time I went on air and called a game live on the radio was a life-changing experience for me.”
“This recognition is the culmination of a lot of things,” said Aaron Furgason, chair of the Department of Communication who serves as an advisor to WMCX. “The station is open to all students, employees, and alumni. We have more than 130 students involved with the station representing a variety of majors,” said Furgason, acknowledging the diversity of thought and perspectives communicated through an assortment of news, talk, sports, and music shows broadcast by the station.
“We have a lot of talk shows and political shows. We have a Latin show with both music and interviews, and we host classroom concerts that we broadcast live on social media,” Furgason noted. He also emphasized how technology has helped the station evolve and grow, both allowing the station to operate virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanding its global listenership through streaming. “We have listeners in Australia, France, and Russia that reach out to us looking for swag to show their support.”
While this is the first time WMCX was recognized by The Princeton Review, the station is no stranger to accolades having run out of wall space to display its many awards, including a national honor from the Intercollegiate Broadcast System (IBS) earlier this year. The WMCX show “Nuestros Sonidos Latinos” won the 2020 IBS first-place trophy for best foreign language broadcast. The win made Monmouth University the first university radio station outside the state of California to achieve the honor.
WMCX began broadcasting from Monmouth University in 1974. At 10 watts, the station could initially be heard only within a 2-to-3-mile radius. Today, the station has a broadcast radius of approximately 25 miles reaching towns across Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. The station has more than 500,000 listeners both domestically and internationally thanks largely to the online “listen live” streaming radio feature.