WHO WE ARE
WMSS is one of the few High School operated broadcast stations in the country. WMSS is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and is owned by the Middletown Area School District. WMSS Broadcasts on 91.1MHz, FM, and has an output power of 475 Watts, more than many college radio stations! We are owned and operated by the Middletown Area School District. Students in the Middle School (grades 7 through 8) may join the Radio Club. At the High School level, radio becomes a credit course that meets outside regular school hours.
What can you expect to hear when you tune in to WMSS? That is a difficult question to answer. If you tune in during a weekday during the school year, you could hear just about any kind of music from Jimmy Buffet to Jim Morrison and anything and everything in between. In the evenings (after 3), WMSS plays mostly alternative style music. The students on the air get to choose what they want to play during their air shifts. While there are guidelines concerning inappropriate content, the students in the program are free to choose from the large library of music at WMSS, and they supplement what the station has with music from their own CD and tape collections. Mixed in with all of this are various pre-recorded shows and live sports events. On Sundays, WMSS carries a number of local church services, some of them are broadcast live.
HOW WE ARE FUNDED
WMSS is owned and operated by the Middletown Area School District. A majority of our funding, however, does not come from the School District. WMSS is largely funded through Underwriters - local businesses and organizations that sponsor various programs on WMSS. Our biggest fund raising activity of the year is the famous WMSS CHICKEN BAR-B-QUE. Held each spring, right before Mothers day, this is one of the biggest fund raising activities WMSS holds. We also receive support from our listeners. If you would like to make a donation to WMSS, check out our contact information. Any donation made is greatly appreciated and is tax deductible.
WMSS began its life as an idea in the minds of founders John Cooper and Jeff Johnston in 1976. They were both teachers at the Feaser Jr. High School and ran across an article in a student council magazine about a student-run radio station in California. In September of 1977, a construction permit had been applied for from the FCC to build the radio station. In October of the following year, WMSS signed on the air at 91.1FM with 10 Watts of power.
Since that time, WMSS has endured many changes. In 1979, power was increased to 150 Watts. In 1985, another power increase brought the station up to 640 Watts. Entering the 90's, WMSS once again increased power, covering Central Pennsylvania with 1350 Watts of FM Stereo. In 2008, when the station moved to it's present location in the Middletown Area Middle School, power was reduced to 475 watts. WMSS is currently pursuing an upgrade to 4500 Watts. Throughout its history, WMSS was in the Feaser building for all but one school year. In the 1985-86 school year, WMSS had to relocate its studios to the projection booth at the Middletown Area High School while renovations were being performed on the Feaser building. When WMSS moved back into the Feaser building in late summer 1986, they moved into newer and larger studios. Another change to WMSS came about through Pennlive.com bringing WMSS into the online webcasting world. WMSS can now be heard live on the internet anywhere in the world on the Tune-In app or here on wmssfm.com! Click here to listen.
On January 3, 2008, WMSS relocated from the Feaser Middle School to the brand-new Middletown Area Middle School. This move followed 6 months of preparation for the move into the newly built school. With the move to the new location, WMSS was required to reduce its effective radiated output power from the previous 1350 watts to 450 watts. While we lost power, the move brought some gains as well. We were able to gain height, a very important thing for broadcasting. Inside WMSS, improvements and upgrades were made as well. WMSS converted the audio within the station from the older analog consoles and equipment to an almost all digital audio network within the station. While we are not broadcasting a digital signal yet, we have made the move to digital in the rest of the station.
WMSS has launched a number of careers in the broadcast industry. John Wilsbach, in addition to being the General Manager of WMSS, is the play-by-play announcer for the Harrisburg Heat, a local professional indoor soccer team, and provides traffic reports for Central Pennsylvania on four major radio stations in the area. Brian Keyser, in addition to helping with WMSS' sports broadcasts, was the play-by-play announcer for the former Hershey Wildcats, a local professional outdoor soccer team. Other graduates of WMSS that have gone on to further broadcasting careers include Mike Ondayko, Karen Stauffer, Jenny Gipe, Dan Magaro, Greg Pickel, Scott Green, Scott Gilbert, Tim Starliper, and last but not least, Sweeny Murti as the Yankee beat reporter for WFAN in New York City. WMSS graduates have also gone into other entertainment-related industries and business as well.
Throughout the years, WMSS was helped by a number of faculty members from the Middletown Area School District. In addition to Johnston and Cooper, Maureen Denis, Mary Bigelow, Barb Tucker, Cindy Dagen, Chad Strickler, and our current Faculty Advisor Brian Keyser.
WMSS has been affiliated with a number of professional organizations, including United Press International, the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, The Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, and Radio Pennsylvania.