USM students have an opportunity now to share their musical tastes not only with their friends, but also with listeners throughout New England.
WMPG, USM’s community radio station, started a program, Husky Tunes, this semester in which students have the opportunity to host their own radio show. Students get to create a playlist with a minimum of 24 songs and host a show, filling a two-hour block Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. A new student hosts each week, and no prior radio experience is necessary.
“It gets students into the building who otherwise might not have found it,” said WMPG Program Director Lisa Bunker.
Bunker feels that many people are frightened at the idea of having their voice broadcast to thousands of people. “In reality, most people listen to the radio alone, so it’s like you’re only talking to one person,” said Bunker.
Before they go on the air, students undergo a brief training session in radio do’s and don’ts, guiding them in what’s appropriate to say on the radio and what’s not as well as what songs are appropriate. According to Bunker, this makes Husky Tunes a great tool for recruiting because, if students are interested in further training, they can volunteer and become more involved with WMPG, and Bunker said, WMPG hopes that the new program will work to get more students involved.
“Being on the radio doesn’t necessarily require a complicated skill set,” said Bunker.
The training is mostly a way to advance radio as a form of communication. It teaches a way to “talk” as one person instead of as a “we.” Bunker suggests treating speaking on air like addressing a friend as opposed to a large audience.
Junior accounting major Sarah Scully was the first student to host Husky Tunes. She went in for a work-study interview and unexpectedly wound up hosting her own show.
“With only three hours to prepare it was stressful, but really fun,” said Scully.
Scully said that just like with a regular show, you have bits about business as well as the weather to report. During her show she played eclectic music, such as acoustic pop songs, amateur covers from YouTube and a little Beyonce, but she tried to avoid playing hit songs from the radio.
“It’s a great opportunity to play music that you’re proud of showing off and want to share,” said Scully.
With a new host each week, the music is never the same.
“I appreciate WMPG for not playing songs that are generally heard on the radio,” said junior economics major and student host Taylor Jenkins. “I could be freer with my music selections.” During his show, Jenkins played a lot of Grateful Dead, as well as Phish.
Jenkins said that when speaking on the radio, the more candid you were, the better it would go. According to him, it’s important to leave time for personality and not get bogged down by the announcements that need to be read during the show.
“It was nerve-racking at first, but once I got into it the time flew by,” said Jenkins. “I was bummed when it was over.”