Turning Tables with WCHC

Michael O’Brien ‘23

Editor in Chief

Photo courtesy of @wchc881 on Instagram.

     Student media groups are an integral part of the opportunities that are available to the Holy Cross community for a chance to express themselves and share what they’re passionate about with others, and WCHC 88.1 FM is a great example of one of these groups.

     Branded as “Worcester’s Only Alternative Source,” WCHC gives listeners the opportunity to take a break from the top 40 lists that are played on most stations and discover music that they may have not been exposed to before.

     Headed by president Jesse Carson ‘23 and kept strong by DJs like Owen Gaffney ‘24, the station is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and looks to continue its storied tradition as Holy Cross’ student run radio station.

     Catching up with Jesse and Owen about their experiences with the radio, the first question I wanted to ask related to why people should tune into radio stations with DJs in an age where streaming services have dominated music consumption. “Well, you get to hear people you know or to people who have had similar living experiences to you,” Jesse answered as to why Holy Cross students in particular would enjoy tuning into WCHC.

     “But for Worcester more generally, the big stations are playing really narrow playlists because they’re driven by money. In terms of competing with them, we’re the alternative source, and we’re youthful which I think is a big point too. And in terms of competing with Spotify and Apple Music, that’s a tough one because you are your own DJ. Some people who really like to be their own DJs will just listen to music on streaming, but I would argue that people who do really like being their own DJ should share their music with others on our station. It’s also just fun to tune into the radio sometimes and have people feed me something interesting since music discovery can be hard on your own sometimes.”

     Responding to the same question, Owen told me “We have a lot of different and diverse perspectives within our club, but we’re also built on a lot of history. WCHC has been around for a long time, and I just wish people could see the inside of our studio more, because there’s a lot of charm to our setup and our identity as a club. We have a crazy variety of CDs and records to explore, and I haven’t really found anything like that on Spotify in terms of ways to discover music.”

     Wanting to push more on Owen’s point or wishing people could see the studio more, I asked about how WCHC plans on being more visible on campus outside of the studio and the airwaves, to which Owen answered “A big focus we’ve had recently is our push on social media. We’ve been trying to reach out on different platforms and become more prevalent on campus. And it’s cool too because this year and last year our e-board has been a really great group where people do different things along with being a DJ, so it’s cool to collaborate with them and see how we can have a larger reach. It’s a little difficult being an audio only medium and not having a spot on any of the big streaming services, so that’s helped.

     I also think we’ve done a really good job utilizing our studio. We’ve been posting some videos from there, and we’ve had some student bands and student acapella groups perform there. I think that’s another example of how we’re stretching out what we’re good at.”

     Such as how being part of a student journalism group has increased my skills as an English major and vice versa, I wanted to ask Jesse about a similar relationship between him being the president of the radio station and simultaneously being a music major in the classroom. Jesse told me “The major just really broadens your horizons around music, but it also does the opposite and lets you zoom in on specific musical devices. As is the case with a lot of other majors, we do a lot of writing, and I’ve found that’s helped a lot with when you’re writing and delivering a speech on the air. So being involved with the radio helps a lot with putting music major skills to the test and lets you share your education with others.”

     Wrapping up, I wanted to return to what the radio really is about in its essence: the music. So, I asked both Owen and Jesse to tell me a little about what sharing music that they love means to them, to which Owen responded “I’ve been doing a late night show since sophomore year where I play a lot of rap and funk type music, and I enjoy doing it because it’s fun to share music with other people. I have a lot of friends who go to other schools that are able to turn in which is great, but it also pushes me to discover more music myself because I can’t just play the same 10 songs every show. I think these are just some of the aspects that go into what makes doing a weekly show so fun.”

     “Since there’s a lot of room on the schedule right now, it allows us to give people who are really into DJing more opportunities to broadcast, which has been cool,” said Jesse, speaking from an administrative point of view. “I’m not doing a show this semester, but the show I used to do which is the reason I care about radio was called The Pocket which was a jazz show. That was a show I really liked, and it helped me experiment with nailing down what I exactly wanted to play.” 

     Be sure to tune into WCHC which is streaming 24/7, and look out for the station’s sponsored concert in the spring, Mount Saint Jams.

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