Lehigh and Lehigh Valley Public Media Announce Radio Partnership

Collaboration will enhance student educational experience while continuing WLVR’s student-driven music programming.

Story by

Lori Friedman

Coppee Hall

The partnership between Lehigh University and Lehigh Valley Public Media will enhance the Lehigh student experience by offering professional development opportunities, such as engaged scholarship, service-learning and paid internships.

Lehigh University and Lehigh Valley Public Media, the community-owned public media organization (home of PBS39/WLVT) announced a new partnership to enhance programming offered through Lehigh’s college radio, WLVR-FM, broadcasting locally at 91.3 FM.

Through a conversion to HD Radio, the collaboration will support the continuation of the student-driven Lehigh radio channel. Lehigh Valley Public Media will broadcast content simultaneously on the main channel as an NPR member station.  This partnership will significantly enhance the Lehigh student experience by offering professional development opportunities, such as engaged scholarship, service-learning and paid internships.

As part of the partnership, WLVR will convert to a multi-channel HD transmitter which enables information to be broadcast simultaneously over digital and analog signals. Found at 91.3 FM, the station will be programmed with locally produced news and information, and content from NPR, American Public Media (APM) and Public Radio Exchange (PRX).

A second channel, transmitted through both HD Radio and online streaming, will remain the college radio station programmed entirely by students under the management of current WLVR Chief Operator and Station Manager Al Fritzinger Jr.  (aka A.J. Fritz). The official launch is scheduled for Nov. 1, with a pre-launch testing phase planned for October.

Under the agreement, Lehigh Valley Public Media will program, manage and operate the main digital and analog signal. As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensee, Lehigh retains ultimate control and authority over the station.

The partnership builds on WLVR’s many years of success, while bolstering the educational mission that accompanies a college radio station. It is designed to maximize learning opportunities for Lehigh students through initiatives such as meaningful, paid internships, classroom instruction by guest speakers and a collaborative and ongoing service-learning class focused on news and journalism.

“WLVR, The Brown and White and Lehigh’s Department of Journalism and Communication have enjoyed a successful collaboration off and on for decades, going back to the days when all of us shared space in the basement of the University Center,” said Jack Lule, chair of Lehigh’s Department of Journalism and Communication. “The enhanced collaboration with Lehigh Valley Public Media will enable internships, training programs, site visits, guest speakers and more, offering huge educational benefits to students from across the university.

Through the internship program, Lehigh students will learn best practices around the craft of journalism, storytelling, media production, and broadcast, print, digital and social marketing. The goal is to not only provide training and educational opportunities to Lehigh students, but to engage students to actively contribute to Lehigh Valley Public Media’s day-to-day work as a nationally-recognized public media outlet.

“Lehigh Valley Public Media is proud to partner with a station and university that has such deep ties to our community,” said Tim Fallon, chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Public Media.  “We are excited to bring our experience and talent, along with our dynamic communication platforms, to existing listeners, while also reaching out to a brand new audience.”

Lule said, “The rewards for students extend well beyond the journalism profession as the skills learned extend beyond any one field. Benefits include the research, fact-checking, storytelling and multimedia skills related to media production, as well as highly-prized critical-thinking and collaboration skills.”

There will be an opportunity for news/talk programs and podcasts that students contribute to or produce to be broadcast locally, and submitted for broadcast nationally.

“I am excited about the opportunities that the partnership with Lehigh Valley Public Media makes possible for students, especially the internship program,” said Fritzinger, who is part of Lehigh’s Student Engagement Office. “The most important factor to me is the major contribution this adds to fulfilling the educational mission of the Lehigh University FCC license.”

WLVR-FM traces its history to 1946, when it was affiliated with the Lehigh student newspaper, The Brown and White. The station has grown tremendously in the past several decades. Run by a dedicated student and community staff, WLVR continues to grow both in size and popularity. This past spring the Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association awarded WLVR the Most Outstanding/Community Radio Station of 2018 as voted on by fans.

Lehigh Valley Public Media is a community-owned public media organization serving eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  PBS39 is licensed in Allentown to the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation.  For more information, visit PBS39.org.

Story by

Lori Friedman