UPDATED: Wavelengths Brings Student Radio to LC

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UPDATED: Wavelengths Brings Student Radio to LC

The Wavelengths E-Board collaborates to choose the music for their weekly broadcast.

The Wavelengths E-Board collaborates to choose the music for their weekly broadcast.

LENA ROSE/THE OBSERVER

The Wavelengths E-Board collaborates to choose the music for their weekly broadcast.

LENA ROSE/THE OBSERVER

LENA ROSE/THE OBSERVER

The Wavelengths E-Board collaborates to choose the music for their weekly broadcast.

By POLINA UZORNIKOVA, Staff Writer

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It all started with a Lincoln Center freshman’s wish to work at WFUV. Had the Rose Hill radio station replied to her initial email, Wavelengths, the new student radio project at Fordham Lincoln Center, might never have happened.

This September, now-sophomore Alyssa Morales, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own platform. So, she did what all young entrepreneurs do: she posted an Instagram story asking if anyone was interested in starting up a student-run radio station based at the Lincoln Center campus.

First, she found her executive board (E-Board): Vice President Duncan Taylor, Secretary Sean de Ganon, Treasurer Caitlin Bury and Graphic Design and Art Director Gill Kwok, all FCLC ’22. The team admitted that they were all in each other’s circles; however, they never could have imagined that they would be united this year by a common love of music.

“Duncan lived right across the hallway from me last year, and we barely exchanged five sentences (before the team was created),” said Morales. Music brought the board together, and now they hope that their grassroots project will succeed in creating a larger community of music lovers on campus.

WFUV itself offered advice on how to achieve that goal once they heard about the Wavelengths’ initiative. “They found out about us by word of mouth. I reached out to some faculty members, and that got us in touch with WFUV,” explained Morales. On Sept. 6, she and Taylor received a tour of the radio station’s facilities, which provided them with an overview of the ins and outs of broadcasting.

Since Wavelengths is not yet an official Fordham club, they currently bounce from host site to host site, their URL changing with every test broadcast. Nevertheless, they have managed to garner a growing community of listeners and have produce mixes that have inspired their own post-broadcast Spotify playlists that can be accessed through their Instagram, @wavelengthsatlc. One of their most recent is entitled “All-Female Artists by an All-Female Team.”

“The guys were away, so we just decided to have a girls’ night,” said Kwok on that broadcast’s theme. Despite not creating their mix with a specific social commentary in mind, the Wavelengths staff was pleasantly surprised at the community’s appreciation of this musical sisterhood.

Kwok described music and playlist-making as a love language. “It’s how you share who you are because the artists who you listen to speak to you in some way. You’re not supposed to look (for music) all the time, it just happens to you.”

When creating a new mix, each E-Board member adds three songs to every new playlist. The members’ tastes are distinct, but they overlap. Bury described how the Wavelengths order their songs through a Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” reference: “You start small, and then you keep going until you reach the peak, but then you gotta come back from that.”

A film major, Bury also likened ordering music to storytelling: Start with the exposition, bring it to the climax, provide the listener with a resolution and “make it a dialogue instead of chopped-up scenes.” In regards to picking their tracks, some, like Bury, go down memory lane and reflect on what they used to listen to a week, a month, a year ago. Others, like Taylor, keep themselves in check by thinking about popular tastes.

For the short term, the Wavelengths board is looking to move the base of operations to Martino Hall, hoping to utilize its professional sound booth. They also aim to collaborate with such Fordham projects as Ramses Records and Winterfest. In addition, they hope to increase the breadth of their broadcasts by adding a talk-show element, as well as making their music playlists more thematic.

Their long-term plans are much more ambitious. By the time the current E-Board graduates, they want to see their project stand on its own and be a fully operational student-run radio station with permanent staff and secure funding.

Inspired by the history of WFUV, a student-led startup first broadcasted in 1947, Wavelengths seeks similar success in the digital era with music at the center of its mission. Cautious of WFUV’s recent lack of student input when it comes to its storied music lineup, Wavelengths seeks to retain its DIY aesthetic for as long as possible.

“These days, they don’t even put Fordham students on air (for music programming) apart from on Sundays. There is an hour of traditional Irish music on Sundays, and that’s run by a guy who goes to Rose Hill,” said de Ganon.

For better or for worse, Wavelengths’ dorm room roots and social media marketing are, for its founders, the best way to bring student-curated music to campus.

This article has been edited for clarity. Additional reporting regarding E-Board members’ interactions with WFUV has been added where necessary.