McNeese State University's radio station - KBYS 88.3 FM - is officially open. On hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony Monday (Oct. 13) were, from left, McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams, Chad Thibodeaux, McNeese's chief information technology officer, businessman and supporter Philip Tarver, Perry Vincent, president of Louisiana Radio Communications, L'Auberge Senior Vice President and General Manager Keith W. Henson, McNeese President Emeritus Dr. Robert Hebert, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach and George Swift, president/CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.
(October 13, 2014) McNeese State University's radio station - KBYS 88.3 FM - is officially open. KBYS - broadcast at 88.3 FM and online at kbys.fm - had its ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning with several officials addressing the crowd.
"We now have listeners in 38 foreign countries and 40 states," said McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams. "Over 68 percent of listeners stayed in excess of 30 minutes with over 20 percent staying to listen for more than an hour at a time. This is great news!"
Williams gave credit to Chad Thibodeaux, McNeese's chief information technology officer, and McNeese Police Chief Robert Spinks for bringing KBYS to life.
"When we hired a new police chief we did not know that he had community radio experience. Chief Spinks and Chad have poured hours of volunteer time into KBYS, the first university-community radio station in Louisiana."
According to Thibodeaux, plans to get a radio license began under former McNeese President Robert Hebert.
"A little over three years ago, McNeese received the permit for the station," said Thibodeaux. "Perry Vincent, president of Louisiana Radio Communications, volunteered to help me with 'Radio Station 101' and we spent an evening developing initial plans and strategies. We could not have gotten KBYS on the air without Perry's help and guidance."
McNeese owned the former dry cleaners building on Ryan Street across from the Shearman Fine Arts Center and it was designated as the home of KBYS. After renovations, the facility now features broadcast booths, a meeting room and a reception area.
"We knew community partners were essential to building and operating KBYS. We could rely on Perry's expertise but we needed a tall structure to locate the transmission tower," explained Thibodeaux. "We approached several possible partners, and when L'Auberge Senior Vice President and General Manager Keith W. Henson gave us permission to locate the KBYS antenna on top of the L'Auberge tower, we knew we could make KBYS happen."
Thibodeaux said another strong community supporter of the radio station was local businessman Philip Tarver and his family, which has provided financial support to KBYS. "His son, Corey Tarver - who is a McNeese alumnus - was a strong proponent of having McNeese students of all majors involved in the station. We have two interns and several students working in various roles from on air broadcasting to marketing."
The radio station provides news and information about McNeese, local programming and music from the '50, '60s and beyond. Listeners can go directly to kbys.fm for updated program schedules, to hear special interviews and faculty spotlights and to listen to the streaming broadcast.
Listeners can also access KBYS with the free McNeese Mobile App available for Apple and Android devices, said Thibodeaux.
KBYS is looking for volunteers from the university and the community in all areas. For information on becoming part of the McNeese university-community radio station, visit kbys.fm.