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WYSO to Be Community-Owned

January 30, 2019—President Tom Manley announces today that the Antioch College Board of Trustees is finalizing steps to establish WYSO as an independent public radio station serving southwest Ohio.

The College is finalizing steps to assign WYSO’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public radio broadcast license to a newly formed nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with an independent governance board. President Manley assures that the station will maintain a close working relationship with the College and will continue to be located on the Antioch College campus.

“When WYSO was launched in 1958 by Antioch College students, it was always our intention that the station would someday belong to the community,” says Ed Richard ’59, a current College Trustee who founded WYSO with Terry Herndon ’57 and Harold Roeth ’61. According to Richard, “the time is right” for the assignment of the license to an independent community-based, nonprofit organization.

“All at the College are enormously proud of WYSO, and while some alumni may worry about this change it is clearly time for WYSO to have full and free ability to steer its course as an autonomous radio station guided by its distinctive mission and vision,” says President Manely. “Antioch College understands that need very well. We are an institution that has worked hard to reclaim our independence and to pursue an exceptional mission. Establishing an independent organization for WYSO and assigning the broadcast license to it was a decision that makes great sense to the College and its Board of Trustees. It’s a win for the community, for WYSO and for the College.”

“Since WYSO’s founding, its listeners, donors, volunteers, supporters, and employees have come to rely on the station as a trusted community resource. The College is now ensuring that trusted resource remains in the community by putting it in community hands. The WYSO story is part of Antioch and vice versa. That won’t change. What a vivid example of how supporting the power of students to give flight to new ideas and enterprises can have lasting impact in the public square. That is the Antioch way and why WYSO will remain a shining example of how it can work,” says President Manley.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for WYSO, and we are ready to stand on our own,” says WYSO General Manager, Neenah Ellis. “We are a strong organization with dedicated staff and volunteers who are ready to guide WYSO into the future. We have experienced tremendous increases in membership, listenership, and revenue. Our budget has doubled in the last 10 years, we’ve expanded our geographic reach with a new tower, and we’ve created a corps of independent producers. We are a vibrant public radio station with a bright future.”

“Both Antioch College and WYSO have grown and benefited from our relationship. But a holistic, practice-based college education and public radio broadcasting are not the same things obviously,” says President Manley. “The assignment of the license permits both organizations to pursue their respective missions, while continuing to maintain the very healthy strategic partnership they have nurtured.”

The term “assignment” is both important and intentional. “At no time, did we consider offering the station for sale in the open market,” says President Manley. “Our goal was, specifically, to place the station under community control–that is, the station will be wholly independent and operated for the benefit of the community at-large. That is entirely in keeping with what the founders and early volunteers had in mind sixty years ago.”

Antioch College Trustee Sharen Neuhardt, an attorney at Thompson Hine, spearheaded the complex project. Antioch College will receive $3.5 million as partial reimbursement for its decades of investment in WYSO. Led by a $2.0 million pledge from Dayton philanthropist Charles D. Berry, the fundraising effort by Ellis and WYSO director of development Luke Dennis has already raised $3,415,000–a remarkable indication of community support for the station.

Among the many ways that Antioch College and WYSO will continue to work together is through The Center for Community Voices, a media training center developed by WYSO in 2010. The Center helps Antioch College students and members of the community, to create radio stories and learn 21st century media literacy skills that are required for effective storytelling on digital platforms. Since 2010, the Center has trained more than 200 people including Antioch College students, faculty, alumni, and community members.

Join us in celebrating this next stage in the growth of WYSO and Antioch College—a great example of the College’s vibrant history of nurturing new ideas and enterprises which ultimately have lasting impact on the public good—and in congratulating the WYSO staff and volunteers for past success, for accepting newly added responsibilities, and for their continued success.