The Mac Weekly sat down with four of the six seniors on Macalester College Radio’s board. Noah Koch, Anne Sombor, Jesse Goldblum and Evan Anderson talked about banned words, good music and how badly they want new stools.
What are your roles on staff?
NK: I’m the office manager, so I keep this functioning and clean and get the information out to the DJs, and I also send out the weekly emails to everyone.
EA: I am a music manager, so I send and receive info from promotion agencies and record companies, and ostensibly I review the music and put it in the station for general consumption by the DJs. And I also curate the office.
NK: The studio.
EA: Yes, I decorate the studio.
AS: I’m the program manager, in charge of DJ goings-ons, so I didn’t sleep during the week when we scheduled. I deal with DJ complaints and negotiations and trainings where they tell me that they want to be trained—but they just need someone to watch them to do it right. They did a great job.
JG: I’m the general manager, I deal with all the bureaucratic stuff, I talk to the administration and coordinate the fixing of the technical problems. I can’t actually fix any of them, but I coordinate the fixing. Some say that I’m the face, or the physique behind WMCN at this point.
Does that mean you have a face for radio?
JG: I’ve just got the radio aesthetic going on.
AS: We’ve got to keep him in the studio as much as possible.
NK: He speaks in FM frequencies.
JG: Yup. I’m heard in mono and stereo. I think between the four of us we do about 12 hours of radio a week, broadcasting.
EA: That’s exactly as many radio hours as Man Cow does.
EA: Man Cow Morning, he was a radio DJ host in the morning.
AS: If you’re listening to the radio and you hear a fact, it’s probably Evan’s show. If you hear Wikipedia, it’s my show.
JG: And if you hear, “Oh, that was awesome!” it’s most likely me. Another fact.
When and how did you guys start in radio?
JG: First semester freshman year there was a flyer on Turck 4, and I was like, “Oh, I want to do a radio show,” and Kyle [Coombs] was like, “I wanna do a radio show too,” and then there were kids.
NK: It was the only part of the liberal arts experience that really charmed me.
AS: I would say I was charmed, also I loved listening to college radio—my whole upbringing, me and my parents would listen to college radio in the car, so whenever I tell my dad a story about radio it’s cute and we bond as parent and child. It’s in my blood. And it’s also in my heart.
JG: Your blood’s in your heart.
NK: I loved your freshman fall show, Anne.
JG: Oh, your night show, that was a good one.
AS: First semester freshman year and second semester I had a two-hour time slot on Fridays from midnight to 2 a.m., which definitely affected my social life. Second semester was “Lady Radio” but first semester was “Chamomile” which was bedtime stories, and I would have my friends come on and read them, but they’d usually peace by like 1. a.m. and I would just be alone in the station.
EA: There was a [TV] show that I used to watch with my father, it was often on reruns and it’s called “WKRP” in Cincinnati and it’s a CBS show from the 70’s and it’s essentially about the hijinks and fun that people have in the radio station together, and I thought, “oh in an ideal world that would be me,” and [Macalester]’s a place to do it.
What are the areas you all like to broadcast about?
AS: The show that I’ve done the most is “Lady Radio” which I’ve done for a bunch of semesters. I try to get more female artists, because most of the radio airwaves are pretty dominated by cis-dudes. I try to get a lot of sweet lady musicians. And a show that I’m doing for the first time ever is with another person—I’ve never had a show with another person before—and he, my co-DJ, knows a lot about prog rock, and I know nothing about prog rock, so we listen to albums together and then he tells me about them, and I like it. Fridays from four to five.
EA: I really like rock n’ roll— with “ n’ “ in the middle— particularly music that was popular on college campuses way back in the day, probably in the 80’s and 90’s as I have identified…
JG: Evan was born in 1968 and cryogenically frozen around ’94.
EA: Yes, that is my backstory. So rock n’ roll, 1975-95, that is the era that I concern myself with the most.
JG: I think I’ve done about nine or ten different shows at this point. My first show was “Mac Debaters” with Kyle Coombs, which was a two-hour debate show on Sunday afternoons from 4-6, during freshman year for two semesters.
We talked about the zombie apocalypse, and mole peoples, and we played a lot of YouTube videos that we thought were funny. And since then I’ve done a bunch of other vaguely-themed shows that I’ve picked every year. I’ve got a show this semester where I just pretend that I’m the first DJ on a radio space station, and I just spend the whole show pretending I’m an astronaut. Which is like the most fun I’ve ever had. Rob Gelberg (’14) simulated spaceship blast-off on air. It was great.
AS: What does that mean?
JG: Well, I was control tower, and he was “Niner, niner” and we were just talking, like “Hello? You are now cleared for launching in ten, nine, eight…” and then at the end [makes a blast-off noise].
NK: My shows have been a variety of things that keep me entertained, so all of last year I played movie and television soundtracks and scores, the year before that I had a talk show with Nina [Slesinger ’14] about television and movies. I also had one where I did the crossword puzzle, and based on the answers we would choose songs, and it was called “The _______ Mightier Than the Sword” because some newspaper had that clue in their puzzle, and the answer was “Pen Is” but when you wrote it in it looked like “penis.”
NK: Exactly. Right now I’m doing “My Dinner with Noah,” which is just a free-form talk show where I bring on people that I know but that I haven’t spent too much time with in my life, and then we just talk for an hour. And that’s actually the most fun that I’ve had.
JG: Me and Evan have had a show for the last two semesters.
EA: It’s called “The Gong Show,” which was a talent show in the mid-1970’s where all these different strange acts would appear and if the panel of celebrity judges didn’t like them they would be gonged. None of that is replicated in our show in any way, shape or form…but it’s a lot of joking around, and good times and good music.
What are your favorite words that you can’t say on the radio?
NK: I think the most frustrating one is “piss.”
AS: Oh my god, yeah! Because when you’re listening to music, you’re not listening for “piss,” you’re listening for “fuck” and “asshole.”
JG: And then you hear it and you’re like, “Fuck!” But then you can’t say “Fuck!”
EA: You can’t say “asshole,” but you can say “ass”—
JG: — and “hole.”
AS: And you can say “cock” and “sucker” but not “cocksucker.”
NK: It’s a little weird, because some of the words that you would like to not have tossed around are the ones that you’re allowed to say.
AS: It’s messed up. Also now I get stressed out when I hear the words that are “illegal” [on WMCN], like when someone’s playing music in their car. When I hear, like, “shit,” I feel like they should have bleeped it.
JG: I was listening to The Current a couple of weeks ago and I heard them use the “Delete” button, and it was great. I felt really really good.
NK: Everybody makes mistakes.
AS: Did you know there’s a way to keep those last seven seconds? I heard one of our DJs use it.
EA: So it doesn’t just delete…?
NK: No, because then it would be dead air.
JG: It loops.
Is dead air illegal?
AS: We can turn off our broadcast, that’s fine. But if we are broadcasting, if we are sending out information, the information has to exist, otherwise it’s dead air.
NK: So we’re blocking the airwaves from being used by someone else.
JG: It’s like stealing from the government.
If you had to dream big about WMCN for a minute, what’s your biggest goal?
EA: I would like to see us expand our broadcast range. And that entails getting a stronger transmitter.
JG: It’d cost us about $30,000.
AS: I would like more people to turn on the radios within our current broadcasting range.
NK: Even though it’d be more hell, I’d like more people to apply and put a ton of effort into their application and have a bunch of people who are really, really passionate about radio.
AS: New stools! We should get new stools that don’t squeak, that would be awesome.
NK: We’ve had two straight years of trying to buy new stools. They’re weirdly expensive. I went to Facilities and was like, “Can I go look at all the excess furniture you have for stools and things?’ and they were like “We don’t have any of those.”
AS: A place to pee would be awesome. Dream big.
NK: People should actually tune in. With radio around here we have some of the most original and interesting programs. There are some really interesting shows and music and way wider variety than anything else, including The Current and MPR.
JG: Spend your money on radios.
AS: Everyone gets a radio!