With both the radio and studio teams in temporary locations since the demolition of Farr Hall, WKCO has used this moment of transition to branch out into new projects. One such project is Middle Path Sessions, an NPR “Tiny Desk”-inspired live video concert series. Created by the studio team, which is distinct from the radio station leadership, these sessions can be found on the studio’s YouTube channel, “WKCO Records” and iTunes.
Seth Reichert ’17 and Grace Fuisz ’19 started the project last year, when they co-managed the WKCO studio. Middle Path Sessions showcases the music of students and alumni. The project has released six sessions so far, with several more already in post-production this semester. Featured artists include Annie Blackman ’20 and Jeremy Stern ’19, as well as alumni bands Park Strangers and Remember Sports (then known as SPORTS).
“We wanted to give the Kenyon music scene more credit,” Fuisz said. “A lot of the performance opportunities on campus were usually dominated by one or two bands, and we kind of wanted to show off that there was something more there.”
Reichert hoped such a project would also be useful publicity for Kenyon musical acts. “I really wanted to bring the idea of making a live performance space for student bands,” Reichert said, “where they could share their songs, share their music to be accessible on the internet, sort of a reality.”
Reichert said he wanted to do something like Middle Path Sessions since he became studio manager as a sophomore in 2015, but circumstances — such as staffing shortages — prevented the project from happening immediately. Reichert said a project like this needs a crew of at least five people, between the recording of sound and video, although they’ve since gotten away with four. When Reichert started interning at the studio, the only two staff members with the necessary experience were the managers.
WKCO would also need a mobile rig to record a live project in these kinds of locations. “We wouldn’t have been able to record bands out in the world until we started to have a mobile rig,” said Reichert. “It took several years of making sure we were equipped.”
With a portable recording device provided by the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) last semester, Middle Path Sessions has become a sustainable reality. The full-time staff is now five strong after taking on new students looking to take a bigger role in the studio.
With Fuisz abroad for the semester in New Zealand, the management of Middle Path Sessions has fallen to the newly trained staff. “We don’t really have official titles,” Jake Zeisel ’19, a project leader for Middle Path Sessions, said. He added that Fuisz is still the studio manager despite being abroad. After transferring to Kenyon from Cornell University last year, Zeisel “learned the ropes of the WKCO” by sitting in on recording sessions with Reichert and helping set up. Now he, Daniela Grande ’20 and Andrew Perelman ’20 have taken the reins of the studio team and the Middle Path Sessions project.
After the loss of the Farr Hall studio in the fall due to continuing campus construction, the primary recording booth was moved to Colburn Hall, and makes the studios uncertain. But Zeisel noted that Middle Path Sessions itself isn’t much affected by the move since the sessions are recorded on location. Sites have included the popular hiking destination Sunset Point, Brandi Recital Hall and the laundry room of Old Kenyon Residence Hall.
“Our output recently hasn’t been very good because of our communication with the rest of WKCO, and our group, we don’t have anywhere that we can meet right now,” Zeisel said. “It’s hard to keep up the momentum.”
Fuisz agreed. “Because the studio staff is a group where everyone is learning hands-on, just doing it, it’s really helpful to just have a meeting space where we can learn and coordinate together. Especially because we have a lot of organizational things, a lot of events.”
Fuisz and Zeisel both hope to expand the project in the future to further develop the music scene on the Hill and bring more students into the studio, especially those who are nervous about performing. “We really want to do a group of sessions that’s just one song, so people aren’t as intimidated about calling themselves a songwriter,” Fuisz said. “People who are just starting out, or covers, whatever it is.”
Zeisel said he hopes this project will further foster student music at Kenyon. “We thought if we could spread the word about how many talented people there are at Kenyon, people may even be more interested in coming here and playing music,” Zeisel said. “That’s why a lot of people at WKCO came here, I think, because we heard there was cool music stuff being done at Kenyon.” While waiting on construction of a new studio, WKCO continues to leave its musical mark on campus.