College Radio Day Pushed the Boundaries for WMSC

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Published October 8, 2015
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The Montclarion
Radio Day

WMSC celebrated International College Radio Day on Oct. 2.
Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa

International College Radio Day took place on Friday, Oct. 2 this year, presenting WMSC with a new challenge: airing over 50 straight hours of radio, as the 30-hour coverage of College Radio Day quickly turned into the station’s 24-hour coverage of Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 3. This is the longest straight broadcast time that anyone currently working at WMSC can remember.

The radio station, located on the third floor of Schmitt Hall, isn’t stopping there. Under the new management of General Manager Anabella Poland and Station Manager Silas Kezengwa, the station looks forward to its relocation in the new School of Communication and Media, a state-of-the-art facility with a live newsroom.

Another major goal for the future of WMSC is to define a real identity for the station and develop more news-based programming, according to Assistant News Director Juan Contla. “We’ve taken the initiative in responding really [quickly] to news,” said Contla. “We’ve learned to flip around and run news really fast and I think that, eventually, we’ll just keep getting quicker and quicker at it.”

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Staff of WMSC achieved an over 50 hour broadcast for CRD and Homecoming coverage combined.
Photo courtesy of Samantha Williams.

In discussing the rebranding and reidentification of the station, Poland, who previously worked for Sirius XM, said, “I think our biggest challenge will be to find the sound of WMSC. The station has been free-form for almost 50 years. If we want to chart, if we want to grow, we need to create a consistency for our listeners and the consistency comes from our sound and a set of shows that don’t change [from] semester to semester.”

One thing that has stayed consistent for the past five years, however, is WMSC’s participation in College Radio Day, a celebration of the medium and its unique qualities which the General Manager for William Paterson University’s radio station, WPSC, founded in 2010.

[College Radio Day is] our day to shine. It’s our day when the spotlight is on us. -Juan Contla, Assistant News Director

This year, the inclement weather prevented the station’s team from taking part in their annual College Radio Day broadcast from the Student Center Quad, but the day still included special programming of all shows, including an interview with Marketplace host David Brancaccio, who could be heard around the country on National Public Radio.

The station also added a special edition of The Morning Buzz, a news-oriented morning talk show during which the WMSC team discusses topics pertinent to the day and interviews guests.

When asked how this year’s College Radio Day had improved from previous years’ broadcasts, Contla said, “We had a lot of content added to [what we’ve had before]. We had a lot of interviews [and] a lot of features. We tried to make it more unique and add more variety. I think we were successful in that.”

College Radio is the last bastion of freedom in radio. It’s fearless. – Anabella Poland, General Manager of WMSC

That variety, Kezengwa said, is one of the most celebrated aspects of WMSC during College Radio Day. “When you think about a lot of mainstream radio stations, they’re all playing the same thing, doing the same thing,” said Kezengwa. “Here, we get to be different. There’s a liberty [here] where you are really getting the opportunity to express yourself and try new things and learn from mistakes. I love that ability.”

Poland echoed Kezengwa’s praise of the medium’s ability to give artists outside of the mainstream a platform to be heard. “College Radio is the last bastion of freedom in radio. It’s fearless. It is our opportunity to discover music and play unsigned artists and start their career by introducing them to our audience. Commercial radio doesn’t have that luxury. There is too much money to lose if they take that risk, so they don’t.”

 

With a 50-hour live broadcast, playing underground artists isn’t the only risk WMSC is taking on. The proximity of College Radio Day and Homecoming coverage presented a previously unattempted challenge to the current WMSC team, but they succeeded in staying on the air until early Sunday morning. Kezengwa said that the challenge of the back-to-back broadcasting was “one of the things that [he] loved” about the long weekend of events “because in order to grow, you need more challenges. You build up more skills within you to handle greater things. With greater things come greater responsibilities.”

As Contla said, “[College Radio Day is] our day to shine. It’s our day when the spotlight is on us and we have to make it the best we can.”

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