A Little About the Station
I have been a college radio DJ for over 4 years now. As an excitable freshman, I was ever so enthusiastic to join WDCE. Partnered with my co-host Marielle, we geeked out over Indie music and meticulously organized our 2 hour show. A show that happened to be at 1 o'clock in the morning running until 3am. Although we only had a few listeners [who may or may not have been related to us in the "I gave birth to you" sense], we stuck with it and had a great time. Throughout the years, we migrated timeslots and split up as co-hosts and got back together and made changes in formatting. Eventually, we made our way to separate but equally as awesome weekday afternoon timeslots- still playing indie, still loving it. We even got onto the executive board and somehow found ourselves largely in control of the station. It came at the perfect moment, too. Sadly to say, the station was in peril and was almost shut down by our University.
Starting in the 1960s, WDCE was once a thriving and very popular organization for students. Timeslots were sought after and the station itself was doing great things. Other than broadcasting the best in all sorts of music, it brought bands and live music onto campus. It was the life blood of the music scene at the University of Richmond. It was what a college radio station should be... a place to share new music, discover your taste, and impact the atmosphere [or vibe] of the whole University.
So, what happened? What went so terribly wrong that lead to this predicament? I'd like to say that I don't know what happened to the station or why it lost all of its glorious momentum, but I do. It's all about location, location, location, people. It's true in business and it's no different when it comes to student organizations. See, WDCE was once housed in our campus commons. Let me explain the importance of this statement. The University of Richmond surrounds Westhampton Lake which historically separated the Men's Richmond College with the Women's Westhampton College [but now only serves as a dumping ground for debris (like bicycles apparently) and as a home for various waterfowl]. Our commons is a building that acts as one of two possible passageways to reach the other side of campus by foot. Meaning, everyone walks through this building. Every single day. Multiple times a day. Now, let's say it again, people: location, location, location.
For some unknown [probably monetarily related] reason, the station was relocated. To a dorm. On the outskirts of campus. In the basement. There can not be a more literal simile for this situation- they sent us to rot in the dungeon. This happened years before I had ever even considered college radio as a pastime, much less considered attending this particular University. I must admit, I was blissfully unaware of the troubles of the station my first couple of years there. The organization seemed active enough to me- not having a very detailed knowledge of its history. But, the station hadn't brought much live music to campus let alone had gapless programing in years. Over half of the student body didn't even know we had a campus radio station to begin with. Without having that amazing exposure in the commons, interest just dwindled. Without the interest of students, what can a student organization do but flail.
So, there I found myself, as Program Director for the station. With only 3 other administrative staff members and more community DJs than student ones, we were at a loss. We all had this amazing image in our heads of what the station could be. Not just what it once was, but everything it could be moving forward. As lovers of music, it was depressing to see what became of it. But, that didn't stop us from rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. With our new faculty advisor Tim and some dedication on behalf of the executive staff, we got the ball rolling once again. We started heavily promoting ourselves. Simply getting the word out about the station helped the predicament greatly. We got new student DJs. We even got the university to promise us a brand new transmitter [which would replace our current 30 year old equipment]. All it took was for people to care about the station and its future. We see the potential for something great. We just need to get everyone else to see it as well.
I graduated before I could really see the station take off as a student, but I really hope current students start getting more involved. As the type of school the University of Richmond is, I can kind of understand the lack of interest. It's a private liberal arts university with lots of money and lots of legacy [ahem, let's say wealthy] students. About half of the student body are sorority sisters or frat bros. Not to stigmatize this group of individuals, but they are probably content listening to Top 40 radio and the songs blasted over the speakers at frat parties. Not exactly the type of people you would expect to see at a radio station. [But, the station was so popular for so long, that this must not have been a major factor in its troubles, right? ... right?] Having not been a part of that world, I just know that there is a faction [for lack of a better word] of alternative kids at UR who like weird music just waiting to take this station by storm. But, until that happens, I'm happy to continue DJing and helping the station out in anyway I can.
Until next time, happy listening.