The WMBR corridors are silent-free of DJs who have to go around the shelves looking for good music, engineers are making sure the equipment is broadcasting throughout the Boston area. MIT school radio closed its doors under the Walker Memorial in March 2020, when the Institute sent staff and students home early in the covid-19 epidemic. Although the school reopened slightly for 2020-’21, the recording studio was closed to many DJs for more than a year.
But 178 students and other WMBR participants were not about to let the decades-old school dwindle. You can still play 88.1 FM 24 hours a day and enjoy pop-punk and rock music Breakfast for Champions or warble along with the Americana, the country, and the bluegrass of FM method-all copied and edited from DJs home security courtesy of Brian Sennett ’13, MEng ’15, senior program director Songs of the Dead and WMBR technical director.
After the school closed, Sennett recalls, “a wise man said, ‘Get all the equipment you need to get things moving. This will only be temporary. ‘”
Sennett joined WMBR as a second student in 2010 and is one of 40 students still working at the station, which many feel as a family. This feeling has a lot to do with what the alumni are going through – and why its members joined forces to ensure that the radio and its culture do not eradicate the epidemic.
WMBR is a dedicated, mostly student-led group that supports a variety of exhibitions. Community members who are not affiliated with MIT as well as students, alumni, and professors, all under the direction of MIT Student General Manager, here are Julia Arnold.
MIT has had a school radio since the late 1940s, but did not use its own modern characters – representing “Walker Memorial Basement Radio” until 1979. This is when Jon Pollack, SM ’79, head of Jazz train, completed their studies. In a brief stint on the radio as a graduate student, Pollack returned in 1987 and has been around ever since.
“I enjoy it so much,” she says. “That is why I have been. It’s part of me right now. “
The WMBR team list shows graduation dates from 1979 to 2020. Having that in-depth knowledge has helped the station stay on track as technology and tastes have changed.
As director, Sennett helped change station from studio to homework in 2020. Now, after seven years in his leadership role, he has started training Gillian Roeder ’24 to take over at the end of the autumn 2021 semester.
“I’m glad there is a way to stop such lights going on for generations,” says Jacob Miske, 20, an interesting observer. Unusual, where they play old and new underground and anti-cultural music. “It’s something I’m worried about and covid – that a lot of the traditions of student groups are being disrupted by the time of death.”
Evidence of WMBR’s tradition rests on the cover of CDs and CDs in a large music library. Classical, jazz, heavy metal, blues, rock — whatever you can think of are stored in bookshelves down to the ceiling.
“We record the ones that play on every disc,” says Marianna Parker ’00, one of the three most iconic rock musicians. King Ghidorah. “I can go to the music library and take the 1988 record and see if John sang this, Sue sang this.”
While their mentors provide musical guidance, students gain greater benefits by working in partnership with alumni and community members. Miske, for example, was inspired by Dave Goodman, a presenter of the WMBR political program Sound and Fury. A former radio personality, Goodman did not go to MIT but worked with WMBR for 30 years.
“Through his show and talk to him, he encouraged me to get involved in politics in the primaries of 2016 and 2020,” says Miske.
As for Parker, who has been a volunteer at WMBR since 2012 shortly after graduating and is now a doctor, he believes that his professional journey gives his motivation to the students he meets on the radio.
“I was not trained before. I went to do other things, and then I went back to medical school,” says Parker.
FCC is the limit
Parker also works with WMBR as president of the Technology Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), an FCC licensed organization that oversees its financial and legal health. The board, made up of students, professors, and alumni, is one of the distinguishing features of WMBR and other college radios. While day-to-day operations are supported by audience contributions, major projects — such as moving an FM transmitter to a long-term home in Kendall Square — are supported by TBC and MIT.
As strange as WMBR is in its support system, it is very strange in its programs.
“Apart from listening to the FCC, we have no rules about what DJs can do,” Parker said.
Sennett realized that on the first day, after being registered at the station by a fellow harpist in the MIT Symphony Orchestra.
“He said, ‘I don’t know if you like radio at all, but I have a WMBR program and I play classical music and death metal,’” recalls Sennett. “And I said, ‘In the same show?’ And he said, ‘Yes. That’s what we do at WMBR. ‘”
“Many other radio stations have a group of programs that select what will be broadcast,” says Valentina Chamorro ’16, a poet. Lentil and Stone. “WMBR does not have that. It is a great platform where we can all do whatever we want, and it is a great privilege. ”
Missing relationships and what happens on the radio has been a challenge for many members during the Covid-19 era. But they have changed, learning new skills such as using the GarageBand audio streaming software. While some listeners agree that its effects are more like podcasting than radio, they have kept the radio alive. And the leadership hopes to open up opportunities for remote production so that alumni can deliver demonstrations anywhere.
But for many DJs, the opportunity to get back on the stage – wandering in groups and greeting their friends – is unlikely to come anytime soon.
“When I get there and the DJ in front of me is in the air, I feel like a train bridge,” says Sennett. “Music is being sung, and your time is near. You turn the switch to go into the air, and you hit play, and the train with your hands. Then you introduce someone who has come in — someone you haven’t seen in a week. He goes on to say, ‘Now the ship is in someone else’s hands. I did my part. ‘”