WMCN managers unveil remodeled office and semester of events


The outside of the WMCN office. Photo by Malcolm Cooke ’21.

Kay Richter, Staff Writer

With a new semester starting, organizations all across campus are gearing up. However, one organization has been hard at work over the summer. WMCN 91.7 FM, Macalester’s student-run radio station, went through a major revamp in the past couple of months and is ready to reveal the changes along with their line-up for this semester.

Located in the basement below 30Mac, WMCN is lead by three managers — Phoebe Mol ’20, Vivian Bauer ’21 and Sophie Gleason ’21 — who organize the schedule, work on outreach and community events and make sure that there is always something playing when you tune in. In addition to the managers, there is a 20 person staff of volunteers who will take on specific roles to help the station run more smoothly.

The student-driven factor of the space is what makes it most appealing. It gives students an opportunity to  explore and develop their ideas in a unique setting.

“There’s not many student-run creative spaces on campus, and it’s a problem at Macalester, but I feel like it’s really special that WMCN still exists. It has existed for a long time, and it sticks to its mission of having it be free-form and student-run,” Bauer said.

However, not every radio show is put on by students. Anyone who lives in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood is welcome to apply. “Some of our long-standing DJs and our most eccentric and appreciated shows are from people that don’t go to Macalester,” Mol said.

The managers spent all of last Sunday piecing together applications to create a complete schedule. Mol said it “usually takes hours to fit together this huge puzzle, with notecards and tape on the walls. It’s very fun to figure out when everybody can get their show in and who’s willing to do a 2:00 – 4:00 a.m. slot.”

The schedule that they came up with is a mix of music and talk shows.

“I feel like every show that we have, every application that we get, is completely different from another one. There’s no two shows that we get that are the same, because every applicant that we have is a student who wants to do something different. Since our station is free-form, it’s not hard to get a variety of things,” Gleason said.

One particularly exciting feature of the schedule is the live music on Saturdays, called “Live from Garth’s Living Room.” Gleason is in charge of finding bands for these times, and the task is easier than it seems.

“The Twin Cities has one of the best small venue music scenes anywhere in the country. Our house show scene is super vibrant,” she says.

It’s really up and coming,” Gleason said. As for WMCN’s contribution, hosting live music “connects us to the broader musical community that’s in the Twin Cities,” Gleason expressed.

Over the summer, Bauer worked with the other summer manager, Freddy Barragan ’22, to give the station an update. In the broadcasting room, they painted the walls a fresh white and put up records and album covers. They also changed the lighting to give the space a cozier and more inviting feel. The live session room was painted from black to a pale blue to make the room less “dungeon-esque” as Bauer described it. The goal of all the renovations is to create a more inclusive and welcoming space.

The largest aesthetic change of the summer was made to the hallway. The timeline of WMCN history, via newspaper clippings, is now grouped by decade and paired with an iconic album cover from the same years. Then, in the newly freed wall space, Mol and Daniel Westhoven ’21 painted an abstract mural. The hallway now acts as a gallery of sorts, displaying how the station has changed through the years and the creative mission that it embodies.

Physical changes are not the only thing that the managers have been working on. They also created a new shadowing program to better help students learn how to host a show. Formerly, training involved a single session for all hosts, however, this was often not specialized enough. Bauer, one of the developers of the new system, said, “That’s a big problem that we’ve had, where DJs kinda just go in right away… We’re trying to have more of a mentor and men-tee kinda system, so that new DJs can feel more confident in their abilities.”

The managers hope to focus more on outreach this year. They will continue “The Big Gig,” an event which premiered last fall and features live music from local artists in the basement of the library sometime in mid-November. The Big Gig is not the only event that the station puts on. Another series the station puts on are open movie nights, where they show arthouse films, which are usually independently produced and experimental. These are every two weeks, usually on Saturdays and Sundays. Since the station’s space is closed to non-staff, these film nights are a great opportunity for students who aren’t involved to check out the space and learn more about WMCN.

“We have events that happen pretty much every week that not a ton of people know about, so our goal this year is to get the word out there that WMCN exists and that we’re here, and we want [students] to engage with us,” Gleason said.

Other ways to get involved with the WMCN radio station include checking their blog at www.wmcn.fm/blog, applying for your own show next semester, and of course, tuning in to listen at 91.7 FM.