Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Students learn to DJ, share ideas at WSU’s student-run radio station

KQAL DJ Ann Kliszcz starts her Friday morning by hosting the show Wake Up Winona. MELISSA VAN GRINSVEN
KQAL DJ Ann Kliszcz starts her Friday morning by hosting the show Wake Up Winona.

Samantha Stetzer/Winonan

Winona’s airwaves are abuzz with students from Winona State University on “Winona’s best kept secret.”

KQAL 89.5, the radio station broadcasted from Phelps Hall, features students as volunteer DJs. The DJs host shows ranging from music of all genres to food challenges to news, sports, comedy and even game shows.

Doug Westerman, general manager of KQAL and mass communication professor, knows the challenges and rewards of being a DJ.

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“From an academic standpoint, it gives a student an opportunity to work on their personality, and it kind of forces you to complete a thought from A to B,” Westerman said. “I think that builds your confidence. The great thing about radio is, your personality is what is going to carry your show.”

This year, KQAL has increased the number of personalities they have on air.

According to Ryan Kirk, Winona State senior and assistant program director at KQAL, taking on new voices is just one of the many things the station keeps doing to improve itself.

“The big thing we did this year was get our numbers back up. Our involvement was a little low this last year, so this year we have had a lot more DJs on air,” Kirk said.

Besides manning the airwaves, KQAL offers students a chance to be involved with radio production in many different ways.

Its six-member production team, for example, is entirely made up of students.

Danielle Wieczorek and Isaac Wenzel are the directors of production and promotion for the station, which involves creating promotions for the radio, working out legal identifications, fundraising and getting KQAL’s name out there.

“As far as production goes, it is such a good introduction to broadcasting in general,” Wieczorek said. “Just getting your feet wet and getting that exposure does so much for you.”

According to Kirk, the positions at KQAL are as various as the students who fill them.

“We have so many things for students to do. You can help in the news department, you can help out with sports,” Kirk said.

But what KQAL probably does best is improve its DJs’ confidence and ability to promote their personalities.

“What I think it’s great at is getting you out of your shell, and it kind of gets you out there,” Kirk said.

With members encouraging and learning from each other, this student-driven club delivers an exciting way to become involved on campus, no matter the major.

Kirk is a prime example of this.

“I started as a science major, and I had a friend who was a mass communications major, [who] had a morning show and didn’t like it by herself. So she asked me to join, and eventually I switched majors,” Kirk said.

By running the radio station themselves, the entire staff becomes their “own little community,” Wieczorek said. They all have the same goal: to create quality entertainment for all their listeners, while improving their professional skills.

“We want to create and produce good content, but at the same time one of our responsibilities here at the radio station is to train people to get them ready for their career,” Westerman said. “So it’s not going to sound like a traditional radio station.”

A bit part of this is constantly generating new ideas.

“I think it’s a lot of being self-motivated, because we don’t have anybody telling us ‘you need to meet that deadline, you need to do this.’” Wieczorek said. “You kind of build your own ideas, and it makes you more motivated to do it.”

Wieczorek and Kirk both had advice to those considering the radio station: “Give it a try.”

“It’s a great leadership opportunity,” Kirk said. “I think even if you go down to the DJs, it’s just great to learn from your peers instead of a professor.”

Wieczorek’s final assessment: “This is the place to make mistakes. This is the place to learn from those mistakes, and it’s worth doing.”

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