Sweet Briar’s New Signal

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September 27, 2015; Lynchburg News & Advance

Sweet Briar College, now open under new management after the prior board tried to shut it down last spring—you can read all about that here, here, and here—has a big communication challenge in front of it. The last board and administration had fallen out of communication with many of their stakeholder groups, and when they voted suddenly to close the college, those groups got very active: They took risks, they gave money, they advocated and pressured. The many students, alumnae, faculty, and locals from the area who got involved in saving the institution have every right to expect to continue to be informed about what’s happening as it recovers its footing.

So, it is interesting to hear that the college has established a radio station called The Briar (WSWE-LP) at 92.7 FM, broadcasting 24/7 not only for the campus, but also for the nearby towns of Amherst, Nelson, and Lynchburg. The effort is clearly a reaching out to get closer and solidify a reciprocal set of relationships.

Previously the campus did have a part-time radio effort that was described as the campus doing its own thing in its own world. But programming director Greg Ingber says the new effort is “looking to connect to local music, local art, and local charities,” and the station will welcome community people as participants in the station’s offerings. He says that the new emphasis on interaction with the community is represented by The Briar’s new logo—a green rabbit.

“What I kind of like about it is that the rabbit has its ears perked up, so it’s not just broadcasting, it’s listening,” Ingber said. “I think it’s a good metaphor for what we’re trying to do. We’re not just broadcasting, we’re also listening.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • L.L. Kauffman

    Nice article! Thank you for this positive article. All kinds of amazing things are happening at the rejuvenated Sweet Briar College. A student was relling me by phone yesterday that the feeling on campus is fantastic.

  • Thanks for this article. Your point is very important about stakeholders now wanting to have a voice in many aspects of Sweet Briar College. Most administrators in higher education (I am one so I can say this from my perspective and what I see in others) are not used to having high levels of alumni activity in anything other than giving (and that is to what the institution would prefer). There are now regular posts by alumni asking for input on all sorts of matters. I think Sweet Briar College is paving a new way for alumni engagement that is requiring a different level of listening across the campus by faculty, staff and administration. The radio station is a great symbol for this.