Budget woes for WHCR by Nicolette Nanton
The defunding of the beloved WHCR 90.3 FM, also nicknamed “The Voice of Harlem,” has left administrators and students up in arms.
Without warning, the college suddenly eliminated the station’s $30,000 budget. WHCR is housed in the NAC and run by Angela Harden, a CCNY graduate and MCA professor who teaches radio journalism.
Senior Tiffany McKay expressed disappointment when she heard that WHCR’s funding had been stopped. “The station is a beacon in the community,” said McKay, who hosts a WHCR show called “Tiffany’s Playlist.” “So to defund something that has historical value—I can’t understand it.”
Since 1986, WHCR has provided educational and entertainment content to listeners all over Harlem, Upper Manhattan, as well as some sections of the Bronx, Queens, and New Jersey. It is also a teaching facility for City College students. Harlem’s 90.3 FM, which broadcasts live shows throughout the week from CCNY, previously received $30K in funding per semester to support part-time community based engineers and students taking CCNY radio journalism courses.
However, this semester, as state funds have dwindled, the college has had to make cuts across the board. “It is my understanding that enrollment is down and several departments here at the college have been given an advancement officer to assist with funding,” said Angela Harden. “Leslie Skyba is the advancement officer for the Arts and Humanities Division and I’m excited to work with her.”
Adding to the confusion of the abrupt defunding, the 29-year-old radio station underwent a $1.7 million dollar facelift several years ago to widen its listener reach, expand studio space and introduce video streaming capabilities. This effort also highlights WHCR’s commitment to keeping CCNY’s radio journalism students up-to-date with technologically advanced radio environments. “I am very disappointed that the radio station has lost its funding,” said Linda Villarosa, who runs CCNY’s journalism program. “It’s a community asset and offers practical, experiential learning. It’s a shame when funds are cut for something that’s successful, and creates real job opportunities for our students down the road.”
The cuts will hurt the station, but it’s still up and running. A representative from CCNY’s communications and marketing department left the door open for a turnaround. “It is my understanding that budgets for the fiscal year are being finalized and that any cuts have not been confirmed,” she said, and referred The Campus back to Professor Harden, who remains hopeful. “It will also be important for us to develop a marketing strategy to increase our listenership so that we can get more donations from our listeners and businesses in the community,” said Professor Harden.