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Northeastern IL University Automates WZRD-FM, Locks Out All DJs

A controversy is exploding at the Chicago campus of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), as the school has taken over the student-run radio station WZRD-FM as of today. The dozen DJs (or "Wizards") and staff have all been locked out from the radio station studios and the eclectic free-form music playlist is now being played by an automated system.

According to staffers posting on the WZRD-FM Facebook page, NEIU did a "hostile take-over" of the station. What was posted today by angry staffers was the following:
"WZRD Chicago, 88.3 FM has experienced a hostile take-over by the campus administration of Student Activities at Northeastern Illinois University. Today, with less than 24 hours notice, the membership of WZRD was called into a meeting with a secret agenda: The destruction of WZRD. No one was given an opportunity to respond. The staff of the radio station from the station manager on down was locked out of the station effective immediately. WZRD has been taken over by the I-Tunes play list courtesy of Student Activities. Good-bye 'Democracy Now!' Good-bye 'Free Speech Radio News' Good-bye solid community reputation of NEIU! Not to mention all of the artists who are scheduled to interview and perform at the station this summer. The station is closed!"

While frustration from staffers is obvious and understandable, this was not a "hostile take-over" and the radio station is not "closed," as was stated. NEIU is the legal owner of the radio station, and as such can decide what & who to put on its airwaves. For right now, the university is claiming that this is a temporary situation while certain aspects of the student-run operations get reviewed.

NEIU issued a brief statement today via its own Facebook page, which read:
"Northeastern Illinois University's WZRD radio station is currently operating at 88.3FM and will continue to broadcast freeform programming and comply with FCC requirements. The WZRD student organization is currently under university review and on inactive status. We look forward to working with the student organization to bring their voices back to the airwaves."

While the music remains on the airwaves, there is still no word on the fate of some of the regular weekday shows that aired prior to today's events. It would seem that those shows will also be placed on hold for now.

WZRD-FM has been on the air since 1974. The 100 watt, non-commercial, college radio station covers and serves much of the northern two-thirds of the city of Chicago and its immediate surrounding areas.

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