Last Updated: August 10, 2018, 12:32 pm

Shawn Denevan uses radio to create student opportunities


Radio at Dixie State University has changed dramatically in the past seven years, and Shawn Denevan has been there for all of it.

When Denevan started at DSU in late 2010, he took a 60 percent pay cut to work part time in hopes of the job becoming something better for him. After working his way through a master’s program and putting in his dues at DSU, he’s now full-time staff and as the Director of Radio Dixie, he takes care of the day-to-day needs of the radio stations housed on campus.

His time has seen some heavy changes, which he’s spearheaded. Two years back, he oversaw a change out of nearly all the equipment at the radio station and last summer brought new automation software and hardware to bring the station up to date with all the major local stations.

“We aren’t using Radioshack mixers and iTunes,” Denevan said. “These were all pipe dreams seven years ago… Now they’re here.”

DSU hosts two radio stations: 91.3 – Radio Dixie, which plays alternative and indy music during the day and rap and hip-hop in the evenings, and 100.3 – KDXI, which has a classical music focus at day and plays jazz at night. Radio Dixie is owned by the university while Utah Local Radio owns 100.3 and leases it to DSU to add to the variety of stations and increase opportunities for student involvement.

Because there’s so much available airtime, Denevan welcomes volunteers, students and professors who have some radio experience and want to be involved.

“We’re on the air 24/7, so when someone approaches me with an idea for programming, I always have time to fill,” Denevan said. “These community volunteers come in on their own time, are paid nothing and produce quality programming.”

Students who take Denevan’s radio course are expected to be on the air weekly. Other programming comes from local talent and even some of the staff at DSU. Matt Eschler, Bob Oxley and Matt Smith-Lahrman are a few of the number of professors who host talk shows on the air. 

Melanie Sponaugle, human resources coordinator at DSU, DJs for 91.3 Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“When I moved to St. George, I heard the music at 91.3, and I got excited,” Sponaugle said. “It was more to my tastes than the other stuff. We’re playing the best music in town.”

Her interest caused her to seek out the radio course and get involved with campus radio where she met Denevan.

“Shawn’s amazing,” Sponaugle said. “He really facilitates our ideas. When you come to him with an idea he’ll say, ‘Let’s make it happen; let’s figure it out.’”

Denevan’s vision for Radio Dixie is completely student-oriented. He said DSU has the best student radio experience in the state, if not the region.

“You can go to BYU and watch, or you can come here and do,” Denevan said.

His main concern is exposure and letting everyone on campus know DSU has a radio station and that there are ever-growing opportunities for student involvement. Denevan encourages anyone and everyone to come sign up for his radio course, MDIA 2380R.

“I think everyone should take it,” Sponaugle said.

This semester, the radio course boasts a class size of four students. Denevan said that many students on campus haven’t heard anything about Radio Dixie.

“I really appreciate the classical music they play,” said Leighton Ipson, a freshman music major from Washington. “No one else in town really has that.”

Denevan wants more students to come and be involved with the radio, invite their friends to listen to the programming, and become a part of DSU’s identity. He has a goal to make more scholarship positions available in coming years.

“I get to come and do what I love every day, and they pay me for it,” Denevan said. “I just want to spread that around.”