Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
WSRN 91.5, Swarthmore’s student-run radio station, began broadcasting its second semester schedule this past Monday. Hampered by complications related to the Parrish construction project, last semester’s broadcast did not reach its full potential. A revamped studio and hot new shows promise to make this semester a better one for staff and listeners alike.
Many of the problems surrounding last semester’s broadcast, which included malfunctioning equipment, lack of access to the studio in Parrish North, and general disorganization caused by the construction-mandated studio relocation, involve the studio area itself. To help fix these problems, the station staff has made significant changes to the studio layout, starting with a good mid-winter cleaning. “We mopped and swept the studio,” explained Aaron Wasserman ’05, co-Music Director of the Rock Department, also noting that the staff “changed the equipment’s arrangement from a horizontal to a vertical orientation to try and make the station a more inviting and fun place to be. We thought a lot about feng shui.” The station also hired a professional engineer to help address the equipment issues of last semester.
From the “more rocking” (Wasserman) studio, the WSRN DJs will broadcast the usual “fiercely independent” mix of rock, jazz, talk, and oh so much more. Several new DJs make their debuts this semester. “Punkalicious”, which runs from 10:00 to noon on Tuesday mornings, features Emily Lowing ’07 and Madalyn Baldanzi ’08, who is moving over from the talk department. Roger Shaw ’08 will be indie-rocking your Friday nights with “Paper Goblet Time” from midnight until 2:00 a.m. Shaw is excited about the prospect of exposing listeners, including himself, to new music.
“Part of the joy of listening to music is the discovery of something new and wonderful,” explained Shaw. “The extensive WSRN library is a treasure trove for DJs [who are] willing to expand their own tastes.” Shaw says that he will primarily be playing indie and pop rock from the past 15 years, though “anything is fair game.” He will have plenty of opportunities to expand the horizons of himself and his listeners as this week saw the addition of 19 CDs to the station’s library. Offerings from bands such as The Zutons, The Music, and Colonies and Collections of Bees might be familiar to indie-rock fanatics but are probably unfamiliar to most Swatties. Fresh new music is a fine thing to have, but Shaw is worried that the unusualness of many WSRN offerings detracts from the station’s popularity. “I’ve heard complaints that because WSRN is self-proclaimed ‘fiercely independent radio’, the station is too pretentious and separate from the listening habits of the masses…I worry sometimes that either WSRN will have to become more mainstream or else will never become popular with the students.”
Other departments also feature new DJs looking to establish themselves or try something new. This is Kendra McDow ’07’s fourth semester as a WSRN DJ, but her first in the hip-hop department. She hopes to express her love for a music and a culture while speaking out on the serious issue of the objectification of women in hip-hop. “I love hip-hop culture,” she says. “Hip-hop is this fantastical conglomeration of almost every music tradition in the worldÃ¢â‚¬Â¦However, the one conflict I have with hip-hop is its singular representation of womanhood. Women are not monolithic; we have multiple subjectivities.” McDowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s show, the aptly titled “BLACK GIRLS RULE! RADIO” will feature biweekly talks by Jessica Pope ’05 on topics in black history.” Tune in on Saturdays from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. to be entertained and educated.
With poor broadcast quality and mysteriously locked studio doors hopefully things of the past, this semester begins with WSRN back at full strength. Broadcasting on 91.5 and on the web at wsrn.swarthmore.edu, the station is ready to meet the music needs of independent-minded students.