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Student Life

WKNC Expands Hip-Hop Programming in Response to 1992 Protest

The student radio station now airs Underground hip-hop for 24 hours every Monday.

By Laura Mooney

On Jan. 18, WKNC started airing its Underground format for a full 24 hours each Monday. This is in addition to the Saturday and Sunday night Underground blocks beginning at 6 p.m. and the one-hour segment of Local Rap Lunch on Monday at noon. 

The adjustment to WKNC’s schedule came as a response to a sit-in protest that was held in WKNC’s studio in November 1992. The protest called upon WKNC’s staff to devote prime-time hours to Magic 88 (hip-hop, R&B and rap), which at the time only played from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. As reported by Technician, 65 students filled WKNC’s studio and lobby to demand these changes. Although the segment was renamed “Underground” and eventually moved up to 9 p.m., along with a new gospel block on Sundays, the request for daytime hours was left unfulfilled. Thus, when WKNC’s current staff learned of this protest, they decided action needed to be taken to answer this call. The legacy of this 95-minute sit-in will continue through every subsequent Monday, indefinitely, to finally give Underground the prime hours it deserves. 

Dawn Gordon, an organizer of the sit-in of 1992, stated in Technician’s article, “[WKNC] is funded by student fees, and it’s the purpose of all radio stations to serve the public, not just those who like rock.”

Gordon was right in 1992, and is still correct today. Though WKNC prides itself in broadcasting a variety of genre formats, it also recognizes the disproportionate focus on indie and alternative music on its channels. It is their hope that this schedule adjustment will be a strong step towards accountability and a recognition of past mistakes. 

Within the music industry, Black artistry has historically and continuously been discarded, overlooked and appropriated, yet Black musicians have founded many of the genres WKNC plays on-air. The station recognizes that Black creators exist within all genres and corners of the industry. Expanding Underground is just one way WKNC can respond to the call of protesters from almost three decades ago. 

WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1/HD-2 is 25,000-watt student-run non-commercial radio from North Carolina State University featuring indie rock, electronic, metal and underground hip-hop.