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Luther College Chips

“The little basement that rocks”

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A collage makes up an entire wall in the KWLC office.

A collage makes up an entire wall in the KWLC office.

A collage makes up an entire wall in the KWLC office.

Grace Onsrud, Staff Writer

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KWLC is “the little basement that rocks since 1926.” As Luther College’s radio station, it is a platform where students and faculty alike can host their own radio show to share the music they are excited about and host talk shows. Lessons learned in the basement of the Dahl Centennial Union have taken people as far as NPR.

Once students make the commitment to hosting a one hour show once a week, they learn the basics of using equipment. This includes the computer system, the microphones and the button that takes students on or off-air, among other tools. Most radio shows at Luther have a theme, such as a certain genre of music, as well as a name of the host’s choosing. Hosting a radio show is a volunteer job in the office; however, paid work study positions do exist and are often held by previous student show hosts.

Director of Social Media and Promotions Nam Nguyen (‘18) said that he is happy to help students learn how to lead their own show.

“I want to reach out to people who want to do it but are afraid because it is sort of public speaking,” Nguyen said. “I hesitated my entire first year and didn’t do it because I was scared and insecure with my speaking ability but when you start doing it there are a lot of people there to help you.”

Nguyen’s job involves managing KWLC’s website and designing posters for anyone who wants to promote their show. His posters can be seen on social media as well as on the TV screens around the Union. Another part of his job is to promote the artists that send them CDs by working them into the programs. They receive about 40 new CDs per week.

Shasa Sartin (‘19) | Chips
KWLC Program Director Hunter Prueger (‘18) pulls a CD from the KWLC music library.

Program Director Hunter Prueger (‘18), schedules the radio shows and trains new DJs. He hopes to start a 24-hour streaming system so people could listen to KWLC at any time of day. He hopes that this will lead to KWLC being played more often around campus in places like Marty’s and the Caf.

“I know at other schools, they’ll play their college station around campus and we don’t do that at all here,” Prueger said. “I’d like to see that happen.”

Prueger became interested in college radio because of a station in his hometown that was easily accessible.

“The only radio station that I would listen to in high school was Iowa State’s college radio station, KURE,” Prueger said. “That’s how I got into a lot of the music I’m into now.”

KWLC has a number of alums who currently work professionally in radio. Michael Danforth (‘95) used to be the Music Director at KWLC and he is now the executive producer of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” a radio show on NPR. He said that his experience at KWLC gave him skills that have helped him in his career. As the Music Director, he spent time calling representatives of record labels and promotional companies. He says that the phone skills he learned were invaluable, and he became more comfortable with the technology involved in radio work.

“I feel really lucky that I was able to work there and that I was able to find a job doing that kind of work,” Danforth said.

Lindsay Kimball (‘05) is another Luther graduate that holds a career in radio after leaving KWLC. She is the Assistant Program Director at The Current, a Twin Cities radio station. Her job includes being onair, working with bands that come in for recording, and coordinating different departments of the radio station.

Shasa Sartin (‘19) | Chips
The KWLC music library is home to hundreds of records.

Kimball was drawn to KWLC because of her love of new music. During her junior year, she and her friends at KWLC created the web stream students now use so people can listen to KWLC online. They also did music reviews in the form of zines, small-scale magazines, that they placed around campus for people to read. The Current launched during her senior year, and she got an internship there after graduating. She never left The Current and has worked there for twelve years.

“It helped to have the on-air experience at KWLC so that I could do on-air when I got to the Current,” Kimball said. “I learned a lot more jumping from college radio to a public radio station, but [KWLC] gave me the foundation I needed to move quickly.”

Both past and present KWLC employees stressed that working at the station is a great opportunity for anyone interested in music.

“It’s a resource for students to learn how to broadcast, learn how to put together a radio show, and learn public speaking,” Kimball said. “It has so many benefits and it’s such a cool resource that Luther has. I think it’s part of what makes Luther special.”

KWLC will host Rock the Commons, a fall semester version of the spring semester KWLC Block Party, in Bentdahl Commons on Oct 21. Listen on 1240 AM and stream

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The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa