Section: News

After 70 years, WKCO will move out of Farr Hall basement

After 70 years, WKCO will move out of Farr Hall basement

Gabrielle Healy

Next year, if you tune your radio to 91.9 FM, the broadcasting frequency for WKCO Radio Free Kenyon, you may hear “broadcasting live from Peirce Hall.”

After the planned July 2017 demolition of Farr Hall outlined by the Master Plan, Kenyon radio station WKCO will move its studio into a temporary space. WKCO general managers Adam Brill ’17 and Julia Waldow ’17 have been meeting with Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman to facilitate the transition of the station’s office, booth and recording studio. (Waldow is also an art director for the Collegian, and this reporter was previously a radio DJ, though she is no longer affiliated with WKCO.)

The process of locating a temporary space was not easy, Brill said. He said the conversation about moving the location started before their tenure as general managers of the station, when Edward Farkas ’16 and Erin Delaney ’16 held the positions. Farkas noticed the changes to Farr Hall when the  updated Master Plan was released in the fall of 2013 and decided to follow up. At first, WKCO’s faculty advisor, Associate Director of Student Engagement, Kim Blank, told Farkas and Delaney that WKCO would not have to move from its location in the basement because construction would take place around the studio. In a later meeting with Blank — with Farkas, Delaney, Brill and Waldow — she said WKCO would have to move to another location. Both Delaney and Farkas wished administrators had been more transparent about their move from an earlier point in the process. At that point, Brill said they began emailing Kohlman to sort out the confusion, and to set up a meeting with him at the end of the spring semester last year. Blank was not immediately available for comment.

“We put in a pretty extensive list of what our requirements were for a station,” Brill said of their first meeting with Kohlman. “The meeting was definitely kind of frustrating. It felt like we were just saying stuff and Mark [Kohlman] wasn’t really aware of how we operated as a station. I think they’re really on board now. I felt like I wanted to get our voice in really early on, so when we came back to school, we emailed and set up an appointment. Mark [Kohlman] was much more helpful [in the later meeting].”

The first meeting was with Kohlman and Seth Millam, the College’s construction project manager. The pair said they were not sure of what the final plans would be, though Kohlman said the Farr Hall project had already been approved by the Board of Trustees during the April 2016 meeting.

Kohlman described the rebuilding of the radio station as a “high priority” regarding the College’s plan for a renovated Farr Hall. “The three managers [Waldow, Brill, and studio co-manager Seth Reichert ‘17] that I’ve met with have been fantastic,” Kohlman said. “I think that they understand that there’s transition and they have to work within the confines of that transition.”

Brill and Waldow say Kohlman has since visited the station’s office, and the conversation between them about the selection of a temporary space is ongoing; a space for them to broadcast out of is guaranteed. “They’re probably going to be splitting up the broadcast/studio aspect of the space,” Brill said. As WKCO stands now, the studio and broadcast units are together in the Farr basement, but the GMs agreed there was not sufficient space for this anywhere else on campus. Waldow said one of the primary suggestions that they all discussed was placing the booth and office in Chase Tower in Peirce Hall and moving the recording studio to Bexley Hall so the whole operation remains completely available to students, though that was not a guaranteed option.   

Waldow said another suggestion brought up within their conversations was moving the recording studio to the Buckeye Building in Mount Vernon, where the College will house its new film program. Waldow said she was concerned because she did not know if students, would always be able to find transportation, as WKCO occasionally records student groups at later hours of the evening. “It’s really important to us that our station and studio is really accessible. One of our goals is to be on campus within student reach,” Waldow said.

WKCO is not just for students, community members can train and become DJs as well. Heather Petersen, the Sales Floor Manager and Apparel and Gifts Buyer at the Kenyon Bookstore grew up in the area, and now has a show on WKCO called “Revolution Rock.” She is “extremely” passionate about college radio, and says it’s a dream come true for her to have the show. “College radio is really important because before the internet, there was college radio. At that time, it broke all the bands that influence all the bands that [you] like now.”

Moving forward, WKCO’s managers are thinking of ways to celebrate the station’s long history in Farr Hall. They have discussed holding a music festival in the spring to celebrate the current space’s legacy. Although plans are in the works, no official location has been confirmed.

Devon Musgrave-Johnson contributed reporting.


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