Sunday, August 22, 2010

WNEC interview part two

College radio has always been a strange animal. It ranges from highly professional university stations that are National Public Radio affiliates to small, student run, low-powered stations that may not even be heard beyond campus borders. Henniker’s WNEC, transmitting at 91.7 is somewhere in the middle, broadcasting with about 100 watts to surrounding communities (including parts of Warner, Bradford, and Newbury). This week we continue our interview with the station manager Dan Freese and veteran DJ Chip Colcord.

Dan, tell me about your role as the station manager.
Dan Freese: Concerning my role-for many years, probably at least five, the station in my opinion started to fade. When the station was moved to the Simon Center from the dungeon in the library I believe it lost its identity. We were always like a cult and when it moved it became more mainstream which has its good and bad points. With that in mind I’m going to attempt to regain some of its mystique from the past. The first thing that was done was to move the broadcast studio from the closet it was in to a larger room. I never liked the set up of that room, too confining and no air circulation. This was accomplished without affecting our operating budget and with the aid of Phil Reeder who is an alumni of New England College (and WNEC). He and I spent many hours planning this and we were able to do it without a major disruption in on-air time.
The structure of the E-board is the next thing I’m working on as right now the station operates more like a club than a station. We spend too much time discussing events we want to sponsor and not enough on the operation of the station. I’ve re-written some of the student job descriptions like Program Director and added the position of Music Director. My hope is that during the summer I can work with the students in these two positions as far as training them in their roles and we can move forward from there.

What do you have in mind for the future of WNEC?
Dan Freese: A couple of items in the future is to re-establish a production studio where the student DJ’s can make promos and station ID’s-basically have some fun and be creative. We have the equipment for this; I just need to assemble the pieces. We’re also moving forward with internet streaming which we had at one point but when advisor’s changed several years ago so did that ability. And one final thing is to work with the Student Athletic Advisory Council to broadcast athletic events which is the most common request we have.

From the standpoint of programming my hope is that more students become involved with the station. Currently we have students on campus that don’t know we have a radio station. At one time, during my twenty plus years associated with WNEC we had students doing a show three times a week starting at 7 am and I recall the station broadcasting live everyday of the week from noon until 2 am. That’s my vision and we will get there, as long as I can remain patient.

Chip could you tell me about your broadcasting history on WNEC?

Chip Colcord: I started the new show called Out of the Woods back in November of 2009 after taking a three year hiatus from radio. Back during the 1990s I hosted similar shows which were split between contemporary folk and bluegrass programming. I did variations of these shows from 1994 through 2001. The new show incorporates the best of both, plus additional genres as well so long as they are acoustic-based. My emphasis is on the 'wires and wood' fretted instruments, so you won't hear a lot of horns or pianos, but they sneak in too occasionally. I play a lot of new releases from the best of the contemporary singer-songwriters and bluegrass acts, but also try to play some of the classics as well as the occasional 'fish out of water' such as Nirvana Unplugged and that sort of thing. Hopefully there's a little something for everybody in the mix. I am also trying to have the occasional live guest perform on the show as I did in the past. Since it is a Friday show, it is more difficult to schedule visits with touring musicians on that day. I did have my first guest recently however when multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Rich Hamilton came out from Jaffrey to play live on the show, and I have a few other local acts in the works as well. The show has been airing from 6 to 9 on Friday, but at least for this summer season listeners should be able to hear me from 4 to 7 pm. With any luck, this will become the new time slot for the show, allowing for good drive time/dinner time listening. Artists wishing to submit music or perform on the show can contact me at:

What you feel the role of college radio will be in the media age?

Dan Freese: The future of college radio, in my opinion, is fading. With the expansion of satellite radio I think that only the larger schools with money to invest will continue although satellite radio has its share of problems. I believe WNEC will continue on (via the internet) but only so long as it is affordable.
Chip Colcord: I would like to think that college radio will remain pretty much the same in the future, but that air stations will likely become online-centric, if not moving entirely to online broadcasting.

Your columnist predicts that there are two divergent scenarios college radio could travel. In one, it becomes irrelevant due to the overwhelming competition from ipods, online audio, and digital music formats. In another scenario, it fulfills its mission though offering educational audio programs, academic and community access to the airwaves, and focuses on community services that are not available through commercial radio or websites. In order for this to be successful, colleges must fund their radio stations adequately and treat them like the resource they are. The next decade will be crucial for non-commercial radio in all forms. Let’s tune in and find out where the radio voyage is going!