Written by Austin Dunlow, Technician Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
During the COVID-19 outbreak, NC State’s students, employees and organizations had to figure out how to shift their lives to remote work, online meetings, and new or reduced duties. WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1/HD-2, NC State’s campus radio station and one of the outlets of Student Media, also had to endure this transition to remote work. The station is still broadcasting 24/7 during the pandemic and hopes to take people’s mind off of everything during this unprecedented time.
WKNC’s General Manager Laura Mooney, a third-year studying social work and psychology, said WKNC is functioning almost exactly the same as it was prior to the pandemic.
“We have two different IT tech guys,” Mooney said. “Both of them are really hands-on and work to help us solve our problems with being remote. A lot of our work is done digitally. Podcasts are recorded and released digitally. Interviews are a little tricky now because we can’t really do them in the studio, but we’ve done a couple over Zoom, which is really cool.”
According to Mooney, the only notable change has been scheduling new music. WKNC schedules new music on a daily basis and has desktop computers in the studio dedicated to uploading, editing, and scheduling music. Mooney said their adviser, Jamie Lynn Gilbert, along with the IT workers with the station, have worked to set up a system where Gilbert can upload the .wav files of the songs that have been scheduled on a weekly basis.
Mooney said the staff of WKNC is tightly knit, and it was not difficult to keep communication between all of them.
“I think because we’re all friends, the communication has been okay,” Mooney said. “It’s the morale that’s been the hardest part. I think WKNC being a big source of creativity and friendship and positive things throughout the day, it’s disheartening for our students to be separated and not have that central hub of connectivity during the day and the week.”
According to Mooney, the station has shifted its mission from entertainment before education to being more education focused during the pandemic. WKNC has been playing public service announcements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as promoting local nonprofit organizations.
“One nonprofit in particular was the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and they are at risk of losing their food stores because so many people need assistance,” Mooney said. “We’ve been promoting that they are a registered nonprofit, and you can absolutely donate. Or, Alcoholics Anonymous is still having completely virtual meetings, so if you’re in need of assistance, this is still going on.”
Mooney also emphasized the Raleigh Music Venue Employee Fund. They noted this organization is not a registered nonprofit, but the foundation is not making a profit from their proceeds. The money donated goes to support the employees of Raleigh music venues who have been laid off during the pandemic. The station works closely with these venues and wants to help them out as much as it can.
One of the things Mooney is most disappointed about is the fact that the station’s summer DJ training classes have been cancelled.
“It’s kind of a big blow because several of our spring training students didn’t get to complete their training because they didn’t have time to complete the end of training test,” Mooney said. “Not only did we technically lose those students, we’re not getting any new students in the summer, so we’re trying really hard to promote for the fall training class.”
Mooney said they are not that concerned with major artists delaying their album releases. They feel this gives smaller artists the chance to get recognition that they deserve.
“WKNC prides itself on playing itself on playing music you may not have heard in the past, local artists, smaller artists, up-and-coming artists,” Mooney said. “I think the smaller artists who don’t have label support, who don’t have money being pushed at them to say ‘Take your time with the album,’ may be more desperate than ever to get airplay simply because they don’t have shows to make money, and they don’t have tours to make money anymore.”
Mooney recommended some albums to listen to during the pandemic to avoid falling into the rut of hearing the same album over and over again. They recommend Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”, which was Pitchfork’s first 10/10 album review in 10 years since Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Mooney’s personal favorite album of 2020 so far is “Kiss My Super Bowl Ring” by The Garden, which they highly recommend. Mooney also said to be on the lookout for Hayley Williams of Paramore’s upcoming debut solo album, “Petals for Armor.”
For more information about WKNC 88.1, visit the station’s website.