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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh staff members charged with the legal operation of campus radio station WRST-FM recently received photo ID cards from the Wisconsin Department of Justice identifying them as “essential broadcast personnel.”

The cards were issued to radio-TV-film engineers Bill Kerkof and Keith Kintner, along with Director of Radio Services Randall Davidson. The credentials will be recognized by police authorities and will aid any of the three staffers in crossing police lines to access the WRST studio and transmitter in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

Davidson said the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, of which WRST is a member, has worked to develop the system over the past few years. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some broadcast engineers in the gulf region had access to their radio and TV stations blocked by the authorities at the very time these broadcast stations were needed to keep the public informed. Their experiences led to the development of this ID program.

The WBA and the DOJ are working with local police around the state to ensure that these ID cards are recognized. In the event there is a question in the field, a DOJ phone number is listed on the card for any officer to call for clarification.

Davidson says the cards come with strict rules for their use. For example, he says that holders of the cards are prohibited from using them to cross police lines for newsgathering purposes. Also, the cards will be updated regularly and the WBA and DOJ say the cards must be collected from any person who ends their employment with the station.

On the air since 1966, WRST is a full-service non-commercial FM station that operates 24/7/365 with a mission to provide an alternative broadcasting service. It is managed and staffed by UW Oshkosh students under the guidance of a faculty adviser and it is an integral part of the radio-TV-film academic program. Since 1993, it has been an affiliate of Wisconsin Public Radio and it is heard worldwide at www.uwosh.edu/wrst.

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