Tucked away in the basement of Prospect House is the broadcast studio for WCFM, the college student-run radio station. Its walls – adorned with tens of thousands of vinyl records and CDs, original artwork announcing past events, and marks carved by former radio DJs – reveal an anthology of student expressions dating back to creation. from the station in 1942. This semester, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the studio is packed with a new cadre of radio DJs.
Lily Goldberg ’22, events coordinator for WCFM, says radio DJ recruitment did not take place last school year due to COVID-19. As a result, only the current senior class has experienced a full year of radio programming, creating an experience gap between new and old DJs.
This year’s WCFM Board of Directors was tasked with not only training new DJs in the first and second year classes, but also re-establishing WCFM’s presence after a one-year hiatus. “One of the challenges that all organizations have had to face this year is that an entire year of leadership has passed,” said Goldberg, who has been involved with WCFM since his first year. “We took a long time to get off the ground because of the lack of leadership. It’s new for us too.
In the past, WCFM has maintained its presence on campus by hosting performance events, such as its “Live @ the Rectory” series, which featured live musical performances by students. In October, she continued this tradition by organizing a DJ set in collaboration with charm bracelet, an artistic project organized by students; WCFM also has plans for larger concerts this spring.
Upon WCFM’s return, Goldberg also hopes to create opportunities for DJs to bond with each other through events such as DJ dinners. “It has been a priority to make DJs feel like they can log in as a group identity,” Goldberg said.
This year’s full list of back-to-back radio shows is a testament to student enthusiasm for WCFM’s return – in fact, even Kevin Murphy, senior curator at WCMA and Catherine Howe, art lecturer, took advantage of the reopening of the airwaves to host their own shows.
Leilani Fuentes ’24 co-hosts “TBD” with Megan Lin ’24, who features weekly song selections and jokes, joining WCFM for the first time upon her return from her hiatus this fall. [Editor’s note: Lin is a news editor at the Record and was not involved in the writing or editing of this piece.] For Fuentes, WCFM is both an outlet and a way to diversify.
“After COVID, I think everyone is trying to get involved a lot more in communities that they’ve missed or haven’t had the chance to be a part of yet,” she said. “I know I’ve met a lot of great people just being on the radio for a few weeks now, and I can see why people would want to be even more involved now.”
The process of becoming a radio DJ involves completing a series of tasks: senior board members guide newcomers through a series of studio tours and tutorials, followed by observation and a hands-on test. According to Fuentes, while DJ certification follows a uniform process, she is able to take creative liberties on the air.
“There is so much freedom to have your own show with WCFM,” she said. “Of course there are some mandatory rules or schedules that you have to share on your show, but other than that Megan and I are really able to figure out what kind of vibe we want our show to have, and that’s a Fairly unlimited platform that I haven’t been able to experience elsewhere on campus.
Sophie Bellwoar ’25, who co-hosts an interview-style show, “Six By Six,” with Will Olsen ’25, said she also appreciated the flexibility that radio gave her as a new form of expression, as well as the nuances of communicating on the air. “I’ve learned that people take what you say on the air more seriously than they do in a conversation,” she said. “It makes emotions a lot more tangible… You can really mold them to be exactly what you want because that’s your platform. “
For radio hosts who have been involved with WCFM since before the pandemic, its return has eased some of the uproar of the past year.
“It was really fun coming back to radio after a year off,” said Lauren Lynch ’23. Lynch is in year two of her “Listen Up, Sheeple,” where she invites a friend every week to talk about music they’ve recently enjoyed.
“I have always found that having an hour to sit in the studio, listen to music and not have any other obligations is a really restorative moment for me, and it has been more than ever necessary this year”, Lynch said.
Looking ahead to the spring semester, WCFM’s Board of Directors is working to expand its professional development programming for DJs. “Former WCFM officials continued to work at NPR and Pushkin Industries,” Goldberg said. “Something that was missing was the feeling that you could make radio as a career and connect students with resources to pursue radio as a serious and professional business. “
Ultimately, for Goldberg, WCFM is more than just a radio association; she stressed that it provides an important platform for student expression. “Radio shows give people the opportunity to set aside an hour of their week for a sacred time to relax and share music with their friends,” she said. “It’s a way for people to reclaim space.”