WZIP turns 60



By Savannah Johns '22 and Owen Pinion '23  

Akron’s #1 radio station for nonstop hits, WZIP–88.1 FM, has changed the lives of many University of Akron (UA) students for decades — six to be exact. The station celebrated its 60th anniversary on Dec. 10, 2022.

When the station began, it operated under the call sign “WAUP” which stood for Akron University Programs. The broadcast of WAUP consisted of campus news, taped educational discussions and fine arts programming. The call sign was changed in 1989 to WZIP, in honor of the Zips, UA’s athletic nickname.

Today, WZIP operates out of Kolbe Hall and has more than 125,000 listeners each week — reaching about 22 counties in Northeast Ohio over the airwaves and additional listeners via online streaming. Operating commercial-free, it is a top station around Akron, particularly for younger listeners, and is one of the most-listened-to, student-run radio stations in the country.

WZIP allows students to get training and experience in all aspects of radio station operations. Students can become on-air DJs playing music and interacting with listeners, or they can work with music programming, news, production, promotions, sports or underwriting. All give students hands-on opportunities to learn how a radio station is run.

Current Students and Alumni Agree, These Experiences Just Can’t Be Taught in the Classroom

WZIP also opens up opportunities for employment in the industry. Current members often get jobs at stations in the greater Akron area while still in college. And hundreds of WZIP alumni have taken what they’ve learned to start prominent and successful careers in the entertainment and media industry.

Rachel Evans ‘21 says that her time at WZIP helped her land her job at Akron station WQMX–94.1 FM, and she is grateful for the mentorship and opportunities she received from WZIP General Manager Chris Keppler ’91, ’14 and Sarah Kay at WQMX.

Evans was a member in a variety of departments and also served as both the entertainment director and music programming director.

“I learned about the ins and outs of how a radio station works,” she said. “I also learned how to edit audio, mix music and network with people, all important skills I still use today.”

Beyond the experiential learning and career success, WZIP has always been a place to make friends and have fun. “If you’re looking for a cool way to spend your time and meet new people, it’s a great way to do so,” Evans said.

Cody Brown ’16 joined WZIP as a sophomore. He shadowed other members and eventually worked his way up to serve as DJ director, where he booked and interviewed celebrity guests.

The friends and connections Brown made gave him a leg up. Today, he works as an on-air personality at WMMS–100.7 FM in Cleveland.

“People in the industry now will tell you, it’s not always what you know it’s who you know,” Brown said. “I know people that work in the industry in all the major markets in the country. They [Zips] look out for one another, so networking is key. I know a lot of people who got their biggest break from someone who was from WZIP and ZTV.”


Building Confidence

“One way that WZIP helps just about anybody, particularly people who are on the air, is that it builds their confidence,” Keppler said. “Having solid communication skills and confidence can help you in any capacity and can be applied anywhere in life.”

Keppler was involved in the station as a student and understands that faculty can have a great influence in the lives of students.

Amber Good ’12, ‘16 used her time to help better the lives of others. While at WZIP, she had the opportunity to conduct an interview with an employee of ACCESS Women’s Shelter and remembers that interview as a moment she was able to create change within her community.

“Ultimately, I learned the power of reporting and how to use my voice to be an advocate for the community,” she said. “I was making the public aware of an organization that provided vital services to women of all ages and backgrounds who were faced with some of the most challenging times in their lives for whatever reasons.”

Film and television actor Yvette Nicole Brown ’94 agrees. “I learned so much at WZIP and I use so much of what I learned in what I do now as an actor and host.”

Opportunities for All Students

When asked about advice for current students, Evans said that the station isn’t just for communication majors and recommended everyone [from all majors] give the station a try.

Cody Brown also encourages students to join. “Excuses will always be there, opportunities won’t,” he said. “ What do you have to lose? If you’re looking for a place to build a resume and develop yourself as a personality and as a professional, then WZIP is the place to do it.” 

For more information, visit www.uakron/wzip.

*This article originally ran in the Buchtelite, UA’s student-run newspaper. www.buchtelite.com