This isn’t your grandpa’s radio station.
Listeners in Erie and around the world are singing the praises of the new format at Mercyhurst University-owned radio station WMCE 88.5 FM and 1530 AM.
With a collection of 30,000 tracks spanning the 60s, 70s and 80s, the music library at WMCE runs deep. This marks the first time the “greatest hits of all time” have been on air in Erie in six years.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said “Captain” Dan Geary, WMCE general manager and 40-year Erie radio veteran. “It’s overwhelming and humbling. Audiences of all ages are enjoying it, from adults listening to the ‘soundtrack of their lives’ to college-aged students who grew up listening to these songs in the back of their mom and dad’s minivans.”
Jazz fans, there’s nothing to fear – “Jazz at the Hurst” is still streaming online on the Mercyhurst website as well as through Tune In Radio.
The WMCE Facebook page is bursting with praise from fans. One listener – and Mercyhurst alumnus – from Louisville, Ky., said he plans on tuning in regularly: “Listened to station via streaming yesterday for the first time,” he writes. “First song was a Rod Stewart song that was on the radio when I was a freshman in ’73 living in McAuley Hall. Déjà vu! Great mix.”
Think the oldies are passé? Think again – or just head over to any watering hole on a busy weekend night, where rowdy college students will inevitably belt out every word of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
In addition to phone calls, e-mails and Facebook posts of praise, Geary said he has seen “phenomenal growth” in listenership since the station switched its format 90 days ago. The WMCE online stream just passed the 110,000-listener mark, and listeners are tuning in from all over the world. On one weekday morning at 10:30 a.m., 37 people were streaming from Erie, New York City and Los Angeles – and even Thailand, Japan, France and Spain. Demand for streaming the classic hits online has been so great, Geary said, that he is meeting with IT representatives to increase bandwidth so more people can tune in at once.
On the airwaves locally, listeners can hear the 800-watt FM signal as far west as Ashtabula, Ohio; as far south as Meadville, Pa.; and eastward just shy of Jamestown, N.Y.
Geary said Mercyhurst students are excited about getting involved with the station, which offers hands-on learning experiences for those in the university’s communication department. About eight students are currently working at WMCE both on and off the air.
In the age of iPods, Pandora and Spotify, Geary noted that on-air radio personalities are what can set traditional radio stations apart. WMCE features a lively cast of characters, from Captain Dan himself to Cruise Director Julie; “The Maestro” who plays album-oriented “choice cuts”; John and Dave Leisering, the only father-son duo on the Erie airwaves; Frank Rizzone; Commander Bill; Brady “The Wonderboy” Greenawalt; Tim “Timmy Tack” Takus; and Erie radio veteran Ted Abbott.
“We pride ourselves that we are local and that Mercyhurst students can get involved,” Geary said. “And better yet, the Erie community loves it.”
For more information about WMCE radio, visit wmce.mercyhurst.edu.