"When we started to change, it took a while to convince old-time jazz fans," says program director Clark Smith. "But jazz changes. It's not just music of the thirties, forties, and fifties." This doesn't mean the station has turned to the avant-garde. "Nothing dissonant," Smith says. "Nothing jarring. Nobody strangling a saxophone."
WEMU's numbers began "reviving five years ago," says Smith. "The changes we made broadened the night and the day audiences." The most recent Arbitron survey, last winter, put listenership at 47,000, and Motherwell says they should be at 55,000 by next June.
More listeners mean more money. Yohn says a typical fund drive raised $35,000 when she started at the station twenty-five years ago. That grew to $142,000 in the spring 2011 drive but was still not enough in the face of a decade of cuts in state support to education--cuts EMU passed on to its radio station.
As Motherwell explains in an email: "Beyond free rent plus custodial, accounting, and human services, our cash budget is approximately $1.3 million and EMU supplies about 35 percent of that. Our goal is to reduce their support by $250,000 over a three-year period, making it about 25 percent of our cash budget. We cut our budget by $50,000 in FY12 and offset that with $51,000 in increased fundraising and corporate commitments. Our cuts this year and next are $100,000 which we also hope to offset through increased fundraising and corporate support."