Campus radio show lasts in era of internet, fewer listeners

Since 1952, the nation’s longest continuously running nationally syndicated radio show has belonged to the University of Detroit Mercy, “Ask the Professor.”

The more than a half-century-old trivia show that features a panel of UDM educators has evolved over the years and is still kicking in an age of podcasts and lower radio listenership.

The show is taped at Detroit Mercy’s radio station every Friday. Most don’t know about it; the station is hidden behind thick white brick walls in the basement of the Briggs Building. Only a small posters with the radio call letters gives it away.

Professor Jason Roche has been a panelist for the past 5-6 years.

 “Listeners can write in questions from all over the county and overseas for any topic they can think of, a lot more pop culture and trivia.” Roche said, “If they stump the panel we send them a mug, if they lose we send them a picture of the group. So either way, they win.”

Professor Matthew Mio, the current show’s host, started as a panelist in the fall of 2012.

The show used to be broadcast over the radio across the country as a part of federally-required public service programming. But when the FCC deregulated in the 1990s, stations were no longer required to carry such shows, Roche said.

Now, “Ask the Professor” is just available in podcast form and live in a small town in Massachusetts.

 “Podcasting the show has given us new life, as previously we were only on the air when producers needed to fill radio time with public service programming,” Mio said. “Since PSAs have essentially gone away, we have relied on getting the word out on the internet. We probably have a listenership in the hundreds nationwide.”

Michael Jason, the station manager who has been working at the radio station since August of 1994, said he enjoys the show.

 “I have learned so much over the years,” he said. “It's not just about their academic field. It’s about current events going on.”

Javon Holland, a student at Detroit Mercy said he started working at the show this semester and has been a part of 7 episodes.

 “I like the atmosphere of the teachers, they feel really relaxed and real normal, it's not like they are acting fun, just having a good time,” he said.