July 5, 2010
For a college radio station, WKNC 88.1 FM is a remarkably tidy place, especially considering its nickname is “the Revolution.” But then, who says a revolution can’t be professionally organized and well managed?
The station, wedged into a half-dozen rooms on the third floor of the Witherspoon Student Center, is entirely student run, featuring dozens of disc jockeys vying to fill airtime in two-hour shifts around the clock. In fact, the place runs like clockwork, serving up a steady mix of mostly indie rock on weekdays, with side dishes of reggae, punk, dance, R&B, metal, blues, rockabilly and even a cappella music on weekends and after hours.
“We’re in a unique niche,” says program director Kieran Moreira. “We don’t have to worry about the requirements of commercial radio. College radio has the liberty to play what they want to play. That gives us a lot of freedom and brings a lot of creativity.”
The station’s creative streak has established it as a local media powerhouse, earning it recognition – once again – as the best college radio station in the Triangle in the Independent Weekly’s annual reader survey.
“Only one in 10 listeners is a student,” Moreira says. “So that shows that we really reach out to the community itself – it’s not just NC State students. We’ve been pretty influential.”
That influence is felt by local groups, who often gain a considerable boost from airplay on WKNC. Broadcasting at 25,000 watts, the station has enough power to reach the entire region. And the Triangle is well known in the music industry for its vibrant local music scene. General manager Tommy Anderson credits WKNC with helping at least one Raleigh band land a recording contract.
The station is supported in part by student fees but augments its operating budget each February through a fundraising event called the Double Barrel Benefit.
“Typically we try to pair bigger local bands, bands that are already established in the area, with two or three bands that we’ve been playing, that we think are awesome but more people need to know about,” Anderson says. “That’s a great way to generate buzz.”