Perhaps one of Franciscan University’s best kept secrets is the small recording studio tucked away in the corner of ground floor Egan Hall. Students who manage to find their way down there may not think twice about the heavy gray door with the red light above it.
But any communication arts major will recognize that light, which, when on, designates that students are at work recording, likely for Franciscan Effect.
Franciscan Effect, the university’s 24-hour radio station, gives students the unique opportunity to DJ their own radio shows.
Although probably unknown to most Franciscan students, the station is enjoying increasing popularity, explained Charles Hightower, a senior at Franciscan and the radio station’s co-manager.
“We currently have the highest number of (student DJs) this semester than any past semester,” he said.
Volunteer DJs sign up to host one-hour time slots from 6-10 p.m. Monday to Friday, and this semester only two time slots went unfilled.
Outside of these hours, the radio station continues to simply play Christian music. But, while acting as DJs, students can add in their own personal elements to the shows, including news, weather and personal commentary.
“It’s up to the DJ really,” explained Hightower. “You can do a talk show, or just announce what song is coming up. … Most do some sort of a mix.”
Hightower, who himself hosts a show on Friday nights from 6-8 p.m., explains that he prefers to just let the music play and offer only minimal commentary.
“I run it like a Top 40 radio station,” he said.
Communication arts majors at Franciscan University can benefit from the hands-on experience gained through Franciscan Effect, Hightower continued. DJs learn to operate the large sound board in the studio, as well as programs such as Simian and ProTools, which is the “industry standard program for audio editing,” he said.
Scriptwriting, recording and editing are indeed taught in classes required of all communication arts majors, regardless of concentration.
Yet, despite what may seem like a daunting environment to enter into for someone with little to no prior experience in communications, Hightower emphasized that the program is not exclusive.
“Anyone can get involved,” he said. “I have one DJ right now who’s a philosophy major.”
New DJs watch training videos before getting to work, and on-duty lab assistants help them with any technical difficulties they may encounter.
Franciscan Effect has been on the air since Sept. 18, 1992, said Hightower, when it was founded by James Coyle, the former chair of the communication arts department at the university.
The program has grown and evolved since then, and despite the student body’s apparent lack of knowledge of the station, student volunteers continue to create new content.
“I would just really like for people to know that it exists,” said Hightower of the radio station. “There are some real good shows.”
Franciscan Effect can be streamed on 88.3 FM or at wfrscc.com.