Prior to WMSV, Mississippi State had a student-run radio station, WMSB, which went off the air permanently at the end of the spring semester of 1986. WMSB was a low-power FM station with studios on the top floor of Lee Hall. WMSB was started during the fall semester of 1971 in a freshman dorm room on the third floor of Critz Hall, utilizing an FM stereo transmitter that was designed and built as a high school science fair project by one of the station's founders. The station's original call letters were RHOM. It was on air from 8:00-12:00 pm each evening. Later, funding was solicited from the Student Association. With funding approved, the low-power RCA FM transmitter was ordered and the call letters WMSB were issued by the FCC. The station was moved to studios on the top floor of Lee Hall that were formerly occupied by a student-run AM station.
The first student volunteer staff at WMSV (1994-5)
WMSV - Radio With a Vision
On March 21, 1994, the campus radio station went back on the air after an eight-year absence. The station's new call letters were WMSV. The 14,000 watt station broadcast across a 50-60 mile radius around the campus and went by the slogan "Radio With a Vision" (playing off the V in the station call letters, but also alluding to its format). When it began operations, the station played a blend of alternative rock and album oriented rock (AOR). The station also broadcast many specialty shows such as blues, jazz, new age, urban and a number of public affairs programs.
In the beginning, the station was run by more than 75 student volunteers with a paid general manager, Steve Ellis, on staff with the university. The first student staff included:
By 1996, an assistant station manager, Scott Wilson, had been hired, but volunteers still worked in the capacity of DJ's, music staffers, news reporters, anchors, specialty program hosts, public affairs program hosts and office staff.
WMSV - World Class Radio
In January 1999, WMSV changed its slogan to "World Class Radio". The decision to change the identifying logo/slogan of the station was due to the change in the music format to more of an Adult album alternative blend.
Radio With a Vision logo (1994–1999)
World Class Radio logo (1999-2004)
Current World Class Radio Since 1994 logo (2004–present)
WMSV ran a dedicated news department from 1994-2007. In 1994, student news director Jay Houts was named the top news reporter in the country by the National Association of College Broadcasters. The next year, news director Norris Agnew earned the runner-up spot in news reporting at the 1995 NACB convention. In 1996, news director Suehyla El-Attar was a finalist for the country's top news reporting award. In 1997, news director Brian McCann received several awards for journalism from the Mississippi Associated Press.
The station had 30-minute news broadcasts that aired at 7:30am and 5:00pm with an additional 5-minute news update at noon. Utilizing local student reporters, combined with the nationally known Associated Press Wire Service, the station produced coverage of national, regional and local events as well as sport reports. Additionally, the station offered the Geosciences Department at MSU the opportunity to appoint student meteorologists within the Broadcast Meteorology Program to deliver weather updates.
In January 2001, the evening news broadcast was discontinued in favor of three 6-minute news updates at 5, 6 and 7 pm. This move was made to make room for a sports news program that aired from 5-8 p.m. focusing on the Southeastern Conference.
In 2001, the station decided to put more emphasis on sports news in the afternoon and evening. The evening newscast was canceled and three short news updates were put in its place at the top of the 5, 6 and 7 p.m. hours. The former 5 p.m. news slot made room for the creation of "Bulldog Drive Time", which discussed Mississippi State sports and news. In 2006, this show was re-imagined, and "Southeastern Drive Time" (SDT) officially debuted. SDT is a one hour sports program broadcast from 5-6 p.m. featuring discussion on current news in the Southeastern Conference. Hosted by Steve Ellis and Anthony Craven, it is also broadcast on radio affiliates in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia.
Public affairs department
As part of its non-commercial radio distinction, the station started a Public Affairs Department in 1994. The station aired a number of National Public Affairs shows following the 5 p.m. newscast. These originally included "The Health Show", "Special Assignment", Fifty-one Percent", "The Environment Show" and "The Best of Our Knowledge". The station also produced many local shows such as "Focus on Faculty" hosted by Meredith Geuder of MSU's University Relations Department, which featured interviews with faculty and staff in the news at MSU; "American Dreams" hosted by Doug Bedsaul, which interviewed state and national politicians about hot topics in the context of popular music; and "On Campus", a student-produced program that featured interviews and news relevant to the MSU campus.
Another important facet of WMSV's public affairs programming is the airing of public service announcements. The station airs three live PSA's per hour, or seventy-two per day for local organizations, charities and events.