Emerson College’s award-winning radio station, 88.9 FM WERS, announces new programming changes to address issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with a new 24/7 urban music stream.
On December 3 at noon, this new music format found a home at 88.9 FM HD-2 for those with HD-equipped radios. ERS+, a new channel, will also be available as a stream – online and via app at https://wersplus.org.
Before names like Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Queen Latifah or Mary J. Blige were well known, WERS had a history of supporting their voices and music. Vintage WERS programs like The Black Experience, Rap Explosion and 88.9@Night still conjure fond memories for those keen on music discovery.
WERS brings its rich past into the present with ERS+. The channel will revive The Black Experience and serve Boston’s R&B and Hip Hop community with the newest voices, such as Tobe Nwigwe, VanJess, and Durrand Bernarr along with a variety of favorites.
“What will set us apart from the others that play urban music is what always has – we have great ears for new music discovery and a deep library – and we’re not afraid to use both,” said WERS Operations Manager Howard “D” Simpson.
The events surrounding the recent death of George Floyd prompted global demonstrations denouncing systemic racism. WERS General Manager Jack Casey asked WERS staff to develop programming that could bring about positive change. Led by Simpson, the new ERS+ project was created.
Simpson, who will lead this new channel, was born in Roxbury, Mass. and was motivated to become a media professional based on the influential work of programmers and DJs, including Elroy RC Smith, at the city’s heritage urban radio signal WILD. Early on, the majority of the artists played could only be regularly heard on the AM dial, says Simpson, but since then, R&B and Hip Hop have arrived at what is likely their highest level of mainstream acceptance.
“After all these years of incremental change, we wouldn’t have to contend with radio pirates if members of the Black community were truly satisfied with the local radio offerings. If we want to have an impact on the Black community, we should give the people what they want,” said Simpson.
WERS also developed a podcast, the station’s first, that examined the history of social injustice in the United States from slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to police brutality. An 8-part series, Shadows of A Dream highlighted the continuing push for equality in cities like Boston and around the country. It concluded with thought leaders being asked: “Where do we go from here?” The podcast can be found at https://www.wers.org/shadowsofadream/.
To accommodate the new HD2 format, the current Broadway show tunes format (Standing Room Only) will become an online streaming exclusive.
About WERS 88.9 FM
For 67 years, WERS has served as a training ground for broadcasting students at Emerson. The station is the highest-rated student-run radio station in Boston, according to Nielsen Audio.
Founded in October 1949 by Emerson professor Charles Dudley, WERS is the highest-rated student-run radio station in Boston, according to Nielsen Audio. Additionally, it is consistently ranked as one of the top student-run college radio stations in the country. Student-run and professionally managed, the award-winning station serves New England a mix of indie rock, alternative, and folk music. Programming also includes calendars of events, public service announcements, news, and live music performances and interviews with musicians in-studio. WERS broadcasts live from the Emerson College campus, commercial-free, to Boston and beyond via streaming online. For more information, visit wers.org.
About Emerson College
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. About 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students come from across the United States and 50 countries to attend Emerson, which also has campuses in Los Angeles and Kasteel Well, Netherlands. Emerson’s active network of 51,000 alumni hold leadership positions in virtually every area of communication and the arts. For more information, visit emerson.edu.