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Immovable beat | MIT Technology Review


The corridors of the WMBR are quiet — empty of DJs combing the shelves in search of the perfect song, engineers making sure the equipment is being broadcast throughout the Boston area. The MIT campus radio station closed its doors in the basement of the Walker Memorial in March 2020, when the Institute sent staff and students home at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. Although the campus has reopened in a limited way for 2020-’21, the broadcast studio has been closed to most DJs for more than a year.

But the 178 students and others involved in managing WMBR did not allow this decade-old institution to decline. You can still tune in to 88.1 FM 24 hours a day and rock out on pop-punk and rock shows Breakfast of the champions Or Warbell with Americana, Country, and Bluegrass FM RoadAll of these have been pre-recorded and edited from the DJ’s Home Security and submitted to the classical show’s host Brian Senate ’13, Meng ’15. Music by dead people And technical director of WMBR.

When the campus closes, the Senate recalls, “Someone wise said,‘ Take all the equipment you need to keep things going. It’s going to be a time. ‘

The Senate joined WMBR in 2010 as a sophomore and is one of 40 alumni still active at the station, which to many has felt like a family. This feeling has a lot to do with these continuing alumni — and why its members came together to make sure the station and its culture would not be affected by the epidemic.

The influence of generation

WMBR is an all-volunteer, primarily student-led group that supports an eclectic range of shows. Without any MIT affiliation, community members work with students, alumni and professors, all led by an MIT student general manager, currently Julia Arnold.

MIT had been a campus radio station since the late 1940s, but it did not start using its current call letter – “Walker Memorial Basement Radio” – until 1979. Jazz train, Bachelor. Briefly involved with the station as a graduate student, Polak returned in 1987 and has been there ever since.

“I really enjoy it,” he says. “So I stayed. It’s part of me right now. “

A list of WMBR team members reveals graduation dates from 1979 to 2020 This in-depth knowledge has helped keep the station on track as technology and tastes have changed

It was difficult for many members to miss the live radio experience in the Covid-19 era. But they have adapted.

As technical director, the Senate helped move the station from in-studio to at-home operations in 2020. Now, after seven years in his leadership role, he has begun training Gillian Roeder’24 to take over by the end of the fall of 2021. Semester

“I’m glad this kind of torch-passing is happening in a generation,” says Jacob Miske ’20, host Unusual foundation, Where he plays a mix of old and new underground and counterculture music. “This is something I was concerned about with Kovid – that the traditions of many student cultural groups are being obscured by this dead time.”

Evidence of WMBR’s heritage is engraved on the cover of CDs and records in the station’s extensive music library. Classical, jazz, heavy metal, blues, rock — every genre can be imagined from floor to ceiling bookshelf.

“We write down who plays what on each disc,” said Mariana Parker ’00, one of the three rolling hosts of the Alt-Rock Show. King Gidorah. “I could go to the record library and grab a 1988 record and see if John played it, Sue played it.”

Although their predecessors provide music guidance, students benefit more broadly from working elbow-to-elbow with alumni and community members. Miske, for example, was inspired by WMBR’s political host Dave Goodman Sound and Fury. A longtime radio professional, Goodman did not join MIT but worked with WMBR for 30 years.

“Through her shows and talking to her, she inspired me to go out in the 2016 and 2020 primaries and get involved politically,” Misk says.

For Parker, who has volunteered for WMBR since 2012 and is now a doctor after a brief postgraduate break, he hopes to give his own encouragement to the students he meets through his professional journey station.

“I was not pre-made. I went and did some other work, then went back to medical school, ”Parker said. “I hope they see a person in me who has taken a slightly different path and they see a path for their future.”

The FCC is the limit

Parker is also involved with WMBR as president of the Technology Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), the company that holds the station’s FCC license and oversees its long-term financial and legal health. The corporation, made up of students, professors and alumni, is something that sets WMBR apart from other college radio stations. While the day-to-day activities are 100% supported by audience grants, large projects যেমন such as moving an FM transmitter to a taller building in Kendall Square সমর্থ have the support of TBC and MIT.

As unusual as it is in WMBR’s support system, it is even more unusual in its programming.

“Without being loyal to the FCC, we really have no rules about what DJs can do,” Parker said.

The Senate learned of the first day, when he was hired at the station by a fellow violinist from the MIT Symphony Orchestra.

“He said, ‘I don’t know if you’re interested in radio at all, but I have a show on WMBR and I play classical music and death metal,'” the Senate recalls. “And I said, ‘On the same show?’ And he said, ‘Yes. That’s what we do at WMBR. “

“Many other radio stations have some kind of programming board that decides what will be broadcast,” says Valentina Chamorro ’16, host of the poetry show Lentils and stones. “WMBR doesn’t have that. It’s a huge platform where we all have access to what we want, and it’s an incredible advantage. “

In the Covid-19 era, it was difficult for many members to miss the friendship and live radio experience. But they have adapted, learning new skills such as using audio-editing software GarageBand. Although some hosts admit that the result sounds more like podcasting than radio, it has kept the station alive. And the leadership hopes that the remote production option will remain open so that alumni can submit shows from anywhere.

But for many DJs, the opportunity to return to the station ঘুরে touring the stacks and saying hello to colleagues পারে may not come soon enough.

“When I arrive and the DJ in front of me is in the air, I think it’s a ship’s bridge,” Senate said. “The music is playing, and it’s going to be your turn. You flip the switch to go in the air, and you hit the game, and the ship hits your hand. Then you say hi to the next person who’s walking — someone you haven’t seen in a week. , ‘The ship is in someone else’s hands now. I’ve done my job.’



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