When compared to Spotify and Pandora, traditional radio might seem obsolete. Streaming sites have changed the music industry in the same way that fast-fashion stores like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 have transformed the retail landscape. Along this line of logic, if traditional radio is becoming obsolete, many could argue college radio, which has far fewer listeners and brings in little to no money, is struggling even more. However, at Messiah College, college radio is thriving.
“I have been a Pulse DJ since I first came to Messiah,” says Emily Kitner, a sophomore Media, Culture, and Technology major.
Unlike college radio at other schools, Messiah’s campus radio station is open to all class levels and majors. For students who are Broadcasting or Media, Culture, and Technology majors, involvement with the station is required, and a good way to gain real-world experience. However, Kitner says the skills gained through radio are applicable for all majors.
“Even if you’re a nurse, lawyer, engineer, of social worker, public and self-expression are two of the greatest attributes of any employee. By being a DJ, you can kill two birds with one stone, and have a blast while doing it,” she says.
Requiring only 1 or 2 hours of time each week, campus radio is not a big time commitment, making it a perfect option for students who want to try something new during their college years.
In the morning, 90.7 Pulse FM streams classical music and news. Student DJs begin their shows at 1 p.m., and the various shows continue until midnight. During afternoon time slots not filled by student DJs, the station streams indie and Christian contemporary music. The Pulse also relays live broadcasts of different Messiah sports games that offer a break from the music aspect of the station.
DJs can choose what songs or style of music to play, but they must stick to a basic schedule during their program. For instance, every person with a radio show at the Pulse opens their program with a variation on this phrase: “You’re listening to WVMM, Grantham, Mechanicsburg, 90.7 Pulse FM.!” at the top of the hour.
DJs then do a weather update 20 minutes in, and read a “liner card,” – a small advertisement for outside services or on-campus events – at 40 minutes in. Ten minutes later, they choose a “Ministry Moment” from a selection of pre-recorded 30 or 60-second spiritually-centered audio clips.
Finally, DJs must play three songs from any of the CDs on the “playlist” rack. These CDs are often new arrivals from new or upcoming bands. Students also have the option to do a talk-radio style show, if they choose.
“I do a type of Bible study. Every week, I ask all listeners to take a moment and read a chapter or two, and then discuss. I might even read some other books over the air later in the year,” Elizabeth Kelpen, a first-year Nursing major, says. Kelpen’s program airs Fridays from 6 to 7 p.m.
DJs learn how to use the equipment in the station before their first radio show, but it still has its hardships.
“The most challenging part is trying to judge what an audience would want to hear, versus what I would want them to hear. Sometimes what I want to play is nothing that anyone would want to listen to. It’s a challenge, but it won’t stop me,” Kitner says.
DJs feel, however, that the experience is well worth any difficulties.
“I love music so much and love sharing my passion for great music with others. DJing gives me a platform to share and enjoy music with others. As an international student, it also gave me an opportunity to share a bit of the world with Messiah College through music,” says Shekie Olagunju, a junior Public Relations major. Olagunju’s radio program runs from 4-6 p.m. on Fridays and focuses on Korean pop (K-pop) and other international music.
Students interested in having their own radio program can contact Mikaela Mummert, the Pulse’s radio manager. To see a full schedule of student DJs, visit the 90.7 Pulse FM page on the Pulse website: www.pulse.messiah.edu/pulsefm.