The heavy door shuts and the room goes silent. The air is almost tense. The radio host sips from his water bottle for the last time. Then he straightens his back and leans closer to the mike. A producer across the room lifts his hands in the air quietly and begins the count down. Three, two, one.
“You are listening to SiriusXM 143 BYU Radio. Talk about good!”
BYU Radio, which started as an online streaming service in 2002, recently established itself as a full-fledged radio station that reaches people throughout the nation and beyond. It airs online at byuradio.org, satellite radio at SiriusXM 143 and satellite TV on Dish Network 89.
Don Shelline, BYU Radio manager, said the change is similar to what BYUtv and the LDS Church is doing: reaching out to the world and sharing good things with others.
“We wanted to broadcast more of what BYU is,” Shelline said. “For instance, rather than reassuring ourselves that we have a good program that we wanted to circulate among our own members … we wanted to say to the rest of the world, ‘Do you know who we are? We’d like to help you see who we are through the regular things we do.’”
BYU Radio broadcasts over 40 different programs covering everything from BYU campus news and intense sports games to musical performances and family movie reviews.
Shelline said one of the most rewarding moments for the staff is when people, especially those with no LDS background, find their radio station and start to enjoy it.
“Imagine somebody in Charlotte, N.C., that has never heard of BYU, never heard about the LDS Church, driving down the road in his car. [He] has his SiriusXM radio on scanning through the dials and he hears something on BYU radio, stops and listens and says, ‘That’s great stuff! Who is this BYU?’” Shelline said.
In fact, many people have already expressed appreciation for BYU Radio through letters, emails, phone calls and social media. A few weeks ago, a man from Boston commented on BYU Radio’s Facebook page saying he thinks it is better than NPR. He introduced himself as non-LDS and encouraged the team to “keep up the good work.”
Shelline said BYU Radio is a great opportunity for BYU faculty and students to tell their stories to the world. The Wheatley Institute and the Kennedy Center at BYU have been using BYU Radio for their forums and news.
“We’ve got so many departments here [in BYU] that do tremendous things, but they kind of just stay here and the world doesn’t really hear about them,” Shelline said. “We want to help the world hear about the great things that are going on [here].”
Although the number of listeners is still growing, people listen to BYU Radio from various parts of the world in South America, Europe and even Russia, said Miles Nielsen, BYU Radio product manager. Nielsen said people listen to BYU Radio because it rewards them with not only fun but also education.
“It’s not just entertaining, but you gain from it,” he said.