As an award category, “most improved” is a mixed bag—while it acknowledges hard work, it also counts on some previous lackluster performance. Still, college-radio bible CMJ’s recent recognition of WUTK as the most-improved station in the country is a big deal, capping off several years of noticeable turnaround effort by Benny Smith. Smith, a music director at the station in the 1980s, returned to the University of Tennessee’s student-run radio station as general manager in the mid-2000s after working at AC Entertainment, WDVX, and Metro Pulse, and revived what had been generally regarded as a moribund program.
“This is a tribute to the hard work that so many students have put in at WUTK, and continue to do on a daily basis so that we can provide them with the education they deserve, as well as providing Knoxville and elsewhere with original radio that can be found nowhere else on the dial in our market,” Smith says in a press release. “ We are all very proud of this award and recognition from our peers in the industry.”
The award was announced on Oct. 20 at CMJ’s annual awards ceremony, part of the organization’s annual music showcase in New York.