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Campus Current offers forum for discussion

WVKR brings campus news to radio waves

Arts Editor

Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 15:12

WVKR

Carlos Hernandez/The Miscellany News

Above, students record a program for WVKR’s newest radio show, “Campus Current.” The weekly show engages in dialogue about campus events and issues.

Vassar students love to critically engage with campus issues, whether the forum be the Miscellany News Opinions section, one of the many student-led organizations or through commentary on social media websites. But up until the creation of one of WVKR's latest shows entitled "Campus Current," local radio waves were a relatively vacant arena for dialogue surrounding campus events and issues. The show, which strives to highlight Vassar's rich and diverse cultural makeup as well as ongoing events and organizations, airs biweekly from 5 to 6 p.m. on WVKR 91.3 FM.

"I think one of the great things the show does is give students an opportunity to be a part of radio journalism, which for a big part is what radio is like in the real world," explained Program Director and co-Host of "Campus Current" Sarah Scott '12. Because WVKR is known largely for its role as a musical outlet on campus, "Campus Current" integrates a more newsy element into the mix, drawing as inspiration the inquisitive journalistic nature of stations like NPR.

"It's a way of getting students and the Vassar community involved in radio in a way that we haven't seen before," explained News Director Rachel Vogel '14, co-anchor of the show. "Especially since WVKR has had problems with coming off as alienating or elitist because we have a limited amount of spots and a lot of people interested in music on campus," she added. "This is a good way of countering that and showing there are ways to be inclusive with the Vassar community."

Organized thematically, "Campus Current" strives to delve into lesser-investigated campus issues by highlighting a wide array of perspectives of students, professors and organizations. One show featured a discussion of education and activism, including a panel discussion with the organizers of Smashing History, an interview with VAST tutors, a recap of the Jonathan Kozol lecture and a conversation with an English major currently pursuing her secondary education certificate here at Vassar.

Another show both celebrated and complicated the tradition of Thanksgiving by evaluating the holiday from a critically historical and cultural standpoint. Assistant Professor of English and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies Molly McGlennen was included in this discussion alongside Susan Randolph '12. The program also incorporated a curated storytelling hour that shared alternative Thanksgiving stories.

"Campus Current" intern Kyle Casey '15 explained the intimate nature of such programming, arguing that radio as a platform for communication makes way for the most personal and heartfelt sharing of voices: "I have always been attracted to the nostalgia and simplicity associated with radio as a medium," he wrote in an emailed statement. "There is something beautiful about listening to people tell stories and provide direct personal insights into issues about which they are passionate."

The most recent show included an interview with the Night Owls as well as a discussion with Philaletheis's special events production staff of "For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf." Vogel explained that this dialogue was one of her favorites thus far, as it allowed her to evaluate the arts through the theatrical lens. "They really saw a lack of space for discourse for women of color on the stage and the play was addressing that," she explained, adding, "It's great to meet students I haven't met before. I would have had no idea this type of conversation was happening if I hadn't had the opportunity to talk with them."

In addition to catering to the student body, the show also keeps in mind the fact that WVKR listeners are predominately from the greater Poughkeepsie community. Each show concludes with world news brief, and many of the featured themes are pertinent to individuals outside the walls of campus, such as a discussion of Occupy Wall Street and an interview with students involved with the Poughkeepsie School District.

Vogel explained, "We still are a community radio station and the majority of our listenership aren't Vassar students. I think that it is a careful balance of having a show that highlights Vassar events and still having it accessible to the larger Poughkeepsie community."

For next semester, both Vogel and Scott hope to expand the groups from which they pull for interviews. Both agree that their choices governing the direction of the show have in many ways reflected their personal interests and acquaintances on campus. "We want to reach out to departments, individuals and professors with whom we might be less comfortable," explained Vogel.

Perhaps the best way to widen the spectrum of issues covered on the show, Scott and Vogel explained, is to simply get more students contributing to the program. Scott explained, "The more people we have involved, the show opens up to a whole other group of individuals who are doing cool things."  

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