Tuning into the top 50

In your car, through your headphones, streaming on your laptop or even when you stroll down Appian way music surrounds our lives. Recently, Keene State College’s very own WKNH received a spot in the top 50 Best College Radio Stations.

According to WKNH’s website, “WKNH is a non-profit, student-run radio station run by both college students and volunteer community members at Keene State. Founded in 1971, we provide the surrounding area with diverse, non-commercial broadcasts both on the airwaves and with online streaming. WKNH features some of today’s (and yesterday’s) best alternative, jazz, world, hip-hop, metal, folk, & god-knows-what-else.”

One of the General Managers, senior and Communications major, Kerrianne Thomas, said that being a part of WKNH has been her best experience here at Keene State College.

Thomas explained, “My job is overseeing everything that happens at the station. We’re the medium between the FCC, our DJ’s, the community here and the college. We’re in charge of the E-board and general meeting events. We train DJ’s, recruite DJ’s; kind of everything that would come along at a radio station.”

Thomas’s radio career at WKNH has not just been as a general manager She said, “I have been a DJ for a little over three years. At the beginning of my sophomore year I was the promotions director and then I was promoted to General Manager last January.” Thomas continued to say that positions are decided and voted on by the E-board and the general membership of WKNH. These people include community members and the student DJs.

Thomas described the feeling of being in the top 50 college radio stations as “insane.” “We are all pretty shocked here because we have come a long way. WKNH was not always recognized as a great club in general and I think we really changed that; especially this E-board we have now.”

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Thomas continued, “I think the E-board we have now is really passionate about WKNH and we are fortunate for everything WKNH has done for us personally so we really want it to influence and inspire other people.”

Thomas had mentioned that the club itself has been trying to get more and more people in the station. She said, “I think it is the first time ever that people have recognized WKNH in this way and that’s really special to me because WKNH has changed my life so much; it’s given me a career path basically.”

Thomas explained that to be a DJ for WKNH, you have to become certified.

“Becoming certified includes taking two tests, an on air test and a written test. The written test is basically all about the rules of WKNH and the FCC rules; these are really important because if you break the FCC rules you’re breaking the law so you have to be really careful with that. What you do is you read our handbook and our constitution then you take the test. If you pass the test then you do an on air test, which is basically going on air, playing the music, just to make sure you’re feeling comfortable on our board,” Thomas explained.

Thomas said that once the DJ passes these tests they get their own show, which can either be a talk show or a music show.

“If you have a music show you basically pick a playlist of any song you want, it just can’t have a curse in it or be in the top forty because those two things are against our constitution. You make a playlist, you go on air whenever you feel like talking. There’s somethings that you have to follow, like you have to play a public service every twenty and forty minutes; and the top of the hour, which every hour you say, ‘you’re listening to WKNH Keene.’ It’s up to you the way you want the format to be and that’s the beauty of college radio,” Thomas said.

Thomas mentioned that the strength of WKNH is the community it has created.

“We have an amazing group of people here at WKNH and that’s why I love working here. We have community members that have been here for twenty years. We have one radio show called Real Jazz and I think it has been here since 1993 or ‘94, which is the year I was born. They keep coming back and they watch us grow and they are a big help to growing more. I think everyone is respectable here, we all respect each other, we’re all friends. I don’t know what it is but we all kind of get each other. I don’t know if it’s music taste, but it can’t be because everyone has such different shows,” Thomas said.

She also added that a weakness for the radio station is that there are a few who think of WKNH as having a bad reputation before it became what it is today, which is not true. Another weakness would be the lack of awareness about the station itself.

“We’re hidden on the third floor of the student center right next to the Equinox, people don’t see us all the time. We don’t really get played around campus, we have tried to be played in the DC but we understand people don’t want to listen people talk while they eat, I get that. Right now we are played outside in the lobby of WKNH and we are played in the third floor bathrooms but other than that people don’t know how easy it is to become a DJ too. I think that’s one of our weakness, maybe not getting ourselves out there as much as we should,” Thomas said.

Part of Thomas’s team is the Program Director, senior Sean Malone a senior and a Secondary Education and Math major here at KSC. He said he has been a part of the station since he was a first-year and his other experiences with radio stations before WKNH included listening to the radio.

“My job involves being in charge of the schedule and essentially all of the DJs,” Malone said. He continued,“Everyone has specific jobs and my job is dealing with the DJ’s and working with them.”

Malone also said that WKNH could get their name out there more.

“We have been growing pretty steadily since I started here,” Malone said. He continued, “When I started here not a lot of people did it, now we have a pretty good membership of the club and I think that keeps growing. I want to get everyone more involved make it more of a club rather than you just come in and do your radio show.”

Another key E-board member to the team is Promotions Coordinator, senior and Communications major Angela Scionti. Being the Promotions Coordinator, Scionti said, “I create posters for events that come up, I put up the campus events for the DJs so they can say what’s going on on campus. I distribute posters and drop them off at dorms. I also make napkin displays that are in the DC. I recently just made two designs of stickers.  One’s a bumper sticker and the other is perfect for a Nalgene bottle; they just came out and people love them. I just get the word out there through graphic design.” Scionti also added that she has been apart of WKNH since Fall of 2013.

She mentioned that being a promotions coordinator could be something she would do as a profession. “I used to take pictures for the Equinox but I wanted to try something different. I talked to my professor and he shot me up to a radio station in downtown Keene. I work there now, I interned over the summer and now I just work there. WKNH totally helped me land it.”

Being on air has not always been easy for Scionti. “For some reason I am way more bashful when I’m here. I don’t know if it’s cause I’m near my friends but when I’m on the microphone in my office down there (radio station in downtown Keene) I’m not as bashful, but here I still need to shut the door. It’s awesome being on the mic, I don’t have a lot of listeners but it totally helped me with my job downtown. Also from Fall 2013 up until now I used to make a lot of mistakes and totally didn’t have a voice for it.”

Scionti finished by explaining that she is curious to see where WKNH goes after she graduates. She also mentioned that most of the staff will be graduating as well.

Thomas has many more members of her team that work for the station. She finished by explaining in college radio, “You can do anything, you can really let your creative juices flow and express yourself in so many different ways. We have so many different shows. It’s all about creativity here and I think that’s the best part about WKNH because many other college radios do not do that.”

Emma Hamilton can be contacted at ehamilton@kscequinox.com

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