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Michigan State’s student radio station, Impact, continues to grow

Justin Walsh

Radio is an important space for many MSU students, with Impact allowing them to gain real-world experience on WDBM’s airwaves.

Radio serves an important purpose in the lives of many Americans, providing an avenue through which people can take in and discuss information they deem important to their lives. In East Lansing, one particular station provides this information to listeners with a unique twist.

The team at Impact WDBM provides music, news and Michigan State sports analysis and coverage for Lansing Area listeners. The station has been functioning since the late 1980’s and has achieved much success over the years.

What sets the station apart from other shows in the area is the fact that it is almost entirely operated by Michigan State students. The students involved are hardworking, dedicated individuals, many of whom are preparing to be the next generation of journalists and media personalities.

Former members of the WDBM team have continued their careers on a bigger stages, including notable sports radio personality Mike Valenti.

WDBM team member Jay Decoster spoke on the experience he has gotten in his time at Impact, saying his time at the station has helped prepare him for the life he plans to pursue after college.

“Being able to ask questions to head coaches at Michigan State is just really cool,” Decoster said. “I’ve gained a lot of experience from that, and I think that’s really important for my future.

“Honestly, I really don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t join Impact.”

The content of the station, while operated by students, is anything but amateur level. The station received the 2021 College Media Association Four-Year College Radio Station of the Year Pinnacle Award, an award given to the top four-year collegiate radio station in the country, with several contributors receiving individual awards for their work as well.

When asked about the impact of being a part of such a prestigious group, WDBM contributor Matt Merrifield spoke highly of the former Impact Sports Director Luke Sloan, one of the individual award winners, saying how Sloan always worked to get others involved and help out when needed.

“[Sloan] was our Sports Director here for last school year… he does a lot for everybody, he’s the reason I got involved,” Merrifield said. “He always wanted people to come on and contribute and always wants to make everybody improve and wants to make everybody better.”

Merrifield, a producer for the Green and White Report, also hosts the Breslin Breakdown, a podcast discussing the Michigan State women’s basketball team. Working alongside Decoster, Marin Klein and Allie Cohen, Merrifield delves into the world of women’s hoops, giving listeners updates and analysis of the team’s performances and ideas of what to expect moving forward.

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When asked about what goes into preparing a show, Merrifield described the process of preparing content and setting things up to deliver his content.

“For the content of the show, usually one or two of us will sit down and make a show sheet before we show up to the station,” Merrifield said. “When we get there, just making sure all the mics and stuff are working, make sure everything is set up properly.”

While the standards for content are high, the team works together and provides individuals the opportunity to create relationships with their associates. Decoster said the chance to create those relationships is something he highly values as a member of the WDBM team.

“I think just the relationships I’ve developed,” Decoster said of his favorite part of working at Impact. “It’s definitely been fun.”

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