Music: WMCN

By Phineas Rueckert

From a small sound studio in the catacombs of the Bigelow basement, a network of student DJs, producers, and artists are working to revitalize Macalester’s community radio station, WMCN (91.7 FM). The college’s only radio station since the late 1970s, WMCN has had to adapt its programming to fit a rapidly changing media environment. It seeks to take on the challenge of the “digital age” by engaging more actively with the Macalester community, reformatting its website, using social media, and working with local musicians and venues. “Something we’ve been trying to establish over the last two years is to rewrite WMCN’s reputation,” said General Manager, Sarah Holtz ‘13. “We want to be more than just DJs playing music.” WMCN management has focused on creating events and programs that open the station up to the greater Macalester and Twin Cities communities. Last spring it helped organize Battle of the Bands, the event whose winner played at Springfest. It also opened up time slots for former students and members of the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood to host shows. And it recently hosted a Kagin dance. “We really want to cultivate a music scene on the Macalester campus, and have that centered a bit around WMCN,” said Publicity Director, Sam Landsberg ‘15. Landsberg envisions a number of capacities in which WMCN can work to foster a stronger music community at Macalester, such as in-studio performances of student bands, interviews with professional acts that play at Macalester, a 24-hour fundraiser marathon, and a spring concert that showcases student bands. WMCN would also like to work with local bands that started at Macalester and were involved in the radio station, like Bad Bad Hats and Carroll. Furthermore, WMCN hopes to diversify the types of music it engages with. According to Office Manager, Eliza Summerlin ‘15, WMCN would like to get music majors and “people who study music academically,” involved with the radio station, as well. That said, the wide range of music stations that already exist, according to Holtz, has been a major bright spot for WMCN this semester. “In the past, [WMCN] has been predominantly new music and music from the past few years, but this semester we’ve had a lot of shows that span time and space in really interesting ways.” From “Heart of the City,” a show that studies the evolution of a particular city’s music over the past 50 years, to “We Don’t Give a Flying Folk,” a hip-hop and folk talk show, WMCN offers a wide variety of genres and subject matters. According to the WMCN website, there are a total of 66 “unique weekly programs,” which are broadcast on FM waves within about a 3 mile radius of campus. Despite the limited reach of its FM waves, WMCN is broadcast on a webcast that can be downloaded for free to iTunes or streamed online. Furthermore, management wants WMCN to be broadcast at Café Mac dinner. In the same vein, WMCN has begun to use social media to self-publicize. According to Promotions Manager, Simona Zappas ’15, “Everyone is good at promoting their own shows, but it’s hard to reach people outside your own circle of friends, so that’s why the [WMCN] Facebook page is so great.” Acknowledging the new direction WMCN has taken on, Holtz still wants the station to be an open radio forum. “At the same time as we want to be taken seriously on campus…it is still free form radio and I think that’s something that’s really important to all of us—to be able to have a show, whether you’re a freshman or a senior, and just play whatever you want.” Useful information about WMCN: Location: Bigelow basement, courtyard side. Facebook page: WMCN 91.7fm Macalester College Radio Stream online: How to become involved: Submit application at beginning of semester. Most applications accepted. Why listen? Free music, free ticket giveaways, support your friends! refresh –>