Some Not Ga Ga Over Curry Radio

BY NICK IRONSIDE // DEC. 5, 2011 //

The Student Center staff tries to create a “welcoming and open environment” for the Curry community, according to Mark Metevier, assistant director of operations for the building. As a result, he sometimes changes the channel away from the college’s student-run radio station, WMLN.

Station manager Marita MacKinnon, a senior communication major, acknowledged that some student DJs are having trouble getting their shows played in the Student Center. Metevier said WMLN is played there about 90 percent of the time, but when students request a change of stations, the Student Center staff will often oblige.

The student-produced and operated radio station features both music and talk. Junior communication major Chris Haskell works the mic during an afternoon session. // PHOTO BY NICK IRONSIDE

“When we do change it, we’re listening to the students’ suggestions,” Metevier added. “We’ve heard the most complaints later in the evening about heavy, heavy metal music, and then the talk shows.”

Although the Student Center has received complaints about WMLN, no one has made any programming suggestions to MacKinnon, she said. “The feedback we get is internal,” MacKinnon added. “I’ve heard little rumors of feedback, but not anything completely.” She acknowledged that the station has not solicited any feedback from students.

The station operates through a for-credit practicum course, enabling students the opportunity to learn by doing real-world radio work on campus. WMLN is a licensed FM station and has won numerous awards over the years, including some from The Associated Press Broadcasters group. According to MacKinnon, the station’s signal has a 40-mile radius, reaching Milton, Canton, Dedham and extending through Boston.

“We aim to offer a variety of programming that our diverse listeners would like to hear,” said MacKinnon. “We try to offer everything to make everyone happy.”

Alan Frank, a professor in the Communication department who serves as director of WMLN, said loud, heavy music isn’t supposed to be played during meal hours. “During the meal times, we play classic rock; or oldies in the morning,” said Frank. “If it deviates from that, it’s because certain student [djs] are not abiding by the format.”

Frank said 80 to 85 percent of the station’s programming is music, with sports talk and syndicated news programming constituting the remainder. “We’re a rock station,” he added.

Austen Samolchuk, a sophomore IT major, said he enjoys listening to WMLN, particularly when his friends are hosting shows. “I like how the radio station tries to mix up a whole bunch of different genres throughout the day,” he said.

Jesal Parekh, a sophomore management major, said he too likes the station, but only listens to it in the Student Center. “I would make it more public and advertise so more students want to listen,” he said.

Sophomore communication major Kayla Urquhart, who works at the front desk at the Student Center, said she likes the radio station in general. “For the most part, I enjoy it, except when they play the hard-core music,” said Urquhart. “If I was to change anything, it would just be to change up the music. They seem to repeat it a lot.”

Metevier said two factors primarily determine what radio station is played in the Student Center. The first is whether WMLN’s programming is appropriate for whatever is going on in the building at that time. “So, for instance, if it’s dinner time and there’s a talk radio program on, we’ll probably switch it over to some music,” he said. “People enjoy the music atmosphere during meal times.”

The other factor is if students using the Student Center request a change because they want to listen to something else. According to Metevier, those students—who generally make requests in groups of two or three—often have another station in mind.

“We want students to feel comfortable,” he added. “We want to create that community where people feel welcome.”

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