WMCN fosters community inside and outside of radio station


The WMCN DJ schedule on the studio wall. Photo by Audrey Wuench ‘22.

Abby Bulger, Staff Writer

Tucked away in the basement past the 30BigWall laundry room sits Macalester’s very own college radio station, WMCN. The Mac Weekly has written many articles about the student-run station, from spotlights on certain shows to following the processes of renovations and shutting down during COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, the station had to effectively shut down, canceling many community events and barring DJs from entering the studio. 

Now that people are back to hosting their shows in person as of fall 2021, WMCN’s staff is planning events for the spring months and introducing many unaware freshmen and sophomores on campus to the station. 

I recently spoke to Aram Kavoossi ’22 and Audrey Wuench ’22*, two of WMCN’s senior staff members and station managers about how they’ve connected past staff with new DJs and rekindled a sense of community within the station and the rest of the student body. As we talked, the two attributed the start of creating a greater radio sphere amongst students to Scream-A-Thon, a three day Halloween event hosted by the managers. 

“[In October], we decided to make a weekend of events [for Scream-A-Thon],” Kavoosi explained. 

“The first one was a bonfire at Jason [Beal]’s ’22 house which probably 30 or 40 people showed up to, then the next day we had a movie screening in the station and the day after that we read [a]scary story reading [over the air].”

“The cool thing with [Scream-A-Thon] was that a lot of the people who came were new DJs, [not just] staff members,” Wuench said. “It was a great way to foster community within the WMCN. Even before that we had a little open house at the beginning of last semester that really brought people into the space, which was something we desperately wanted to do last year.”

“It’s always cool to see people come down here for the first time and say, ‘Wow, I had no idea this exists on campus.,’” Kavoosi said. “We’re finding that the most popular events are the ones that get people in a social space and [let them] come together about music in person rather than just over the radio.”

As a DJ myself, I’d noticed that there were more new radio shows than ever. Almost every slot on the schedule is filled and from what I’ve seen on Twitter and Instagram, there is an uptick in people promoting their shows. 

“With all the energy we had from fall semester, we had a record high number of applications for DJ shows [this spring],” Wuench said, which is clear from the around 70 radio shows every week. 

“The [new DJs] we interacted with said they’d heard good stuff about doing a radio show from others they knew,” Wuench said “It was encouraging to hear people telling [their friends] that the radio is a community that can be for them, since one of the things we’ve always struggled with is reminding the campus that we do exist.”

There’s a general air of excitement and desire to be more involved in WMCN from new and returning DJs.

“One thing we’ve been wanting to do is make the station a space where people can come out and hang out even when they’re not even having shows,” Kavoosi said, also sensing the excitement. 

 “So, we’re working on setting up office hours where a staff member will be in the office and people can come in [the record room] to chill or do homework,” Kavoosi said. “We’ve also just about secured funding for another record player, so people can do personal listening [of the record collection].”

Not only has the station’s volume of shows dramatically increased, but so has its listeners attracting people from all over the Twin Cities and across the country with the wide array of shows.  

“I can say our listenership has shot up this semester,” Kavoosi agreed. “We definitely have been doing better than maybe we even expected, especially considering during last year, things were kind of dire. We were about to lose our FCC license, but through our own gumption, I suppose, we were able to [renew it].”

However, it’s not just the events that the managers have begun to organize that have been attracting new DJs and listeners alike. Wuench and Kavoosi put heavy emphasis on the important role their Instagram page, @wmcn.radio, has played this year, especially this spring semester. 

WMCN sign on the studio door. Photo by Chloe Vasquez ‘24.

“Several staff members this semester have [revived] our Instagram, [and] we now post a daily schedule to remind people what shows are happening,” Wuench said. “I’ve heard from multiple [DJs] that it’s really helped.” 

Going forward, the managers and staff of WMCN have a lot of big plans and ideas in the works, the soonest being the 24 Hour Broadcast on April 9 and 10

“The 24 Hour Broadcast is a bunch of different staff segments between midnight and 6am.,” Kavoosi explained.“[In the past], we’ve done Twister, a dating show, a scavenger hunt, variety hours and stuff. One time we went through the first 20 of Pitchfork’s 200 albums of the 21st century and everyone gave their hot takes. We’ve also given out prizes that we collect from local businesses, we’ve gotten a $50 Sencha gift card before, or Wet Paint, My Burger, places like that.”

The station is also working on hosting and being involved in a few other events this semester, like Big Gig. Big Gig is a live show that takes place in the basement of the library that was unable to happen last semester due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, this semester Kavoosi and Wuench seem optimistic. Additionally, the two hinted at some form of involvement in the curation of acts for Spring Fest this year, though they couldn’t release any specifics. 

The upcoming, exciting events that WMCN has planned will absolutely make the Macalester community more aware of all the new things happening in the basement of 30Mac. If you’re curious and have never listened to the station before, you can tune in online on WMCN.fm or on the radio in the Twin Cities area at 91.7 FM. And don’t forget to check the daily schedule on their Instagram page @wmcn.radio! 

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*Wuench is a Staff Writer at The Mac Weekly