WILMINGTON — Radio has served as a tribal drum for the last 100-plus years in bringing persons together in community, sharing news and information, and adding a personal touch to sports and entertainment.
The Quake, Wilmington College Radio, is accomplishing all that and more as it connects those students and others that the COVID-19 crisis has physically estranged from the College’s perimeters.
“The goal is to bring some of our campus home to the listeners, to give folks something they enjoy beyond the scope of essential information,” said Nick Wiget, communication arts faculty adviser to WC’s Internet-based radio that anyone can listen to at www.wilmingtonquake.com.
“We’re such a small community here at Wilmington College where it seems like everyone knows each other. We share similar experiences, so when we speak of people and places that are readily known to us, we are quick to find familiarity.”
Finding familiarity has been The Quake’s mission since students left campus in mid-March to continue their spring semester studies online. A new program known as Quarantined Quakers is broadcast several evenings a week at 8 p.m.
Its content has far exceeded information easily found via email communications and on the WC Student App and the College’s web page featuring the nuts and bolts of maintaining one’s educational studies during the Coronavirus crisis.
Audiences have heard Vice President for Academic Affairs Erika Goodwin’s thoughts as she prepares to become interim president in July; Mitch Blankespoor, director of athletic communication, shared his adventures both as a new father and his exploits in the kitchen; Adam Lohrey, director of admission, addressed how his staff is dealing with not being able to communicate face-to-face with prospective students.
Most unique so far was Monday night’s guest, Nathan Kraft, a high school senior from Xenia, whom Wiget invited to share favorite music and commentary after seeing an impressive video he produced about his senior class. Kraft is considering enrolling at WC and, based upon his polished presentation on The Quake, he likely passed his audition to host a radio show this fall.
Program host Wiget’s inaugural guest on Quarantined Quakers was senior Layne Frederick, who has been handling The Quake’s website and social media in this new normal. While the station is programmed to air music 24/7 from a national streaming company, the trio of Wiget, Frederick and station manager Josh Woodward, junior, was adamant the radio station should continue to be a student voice with original programming — at least through the duration of the semester.
“When we learned the campus was going to be shut down, we all had thoughts of, ‘What we can do to make sure the radio can still operate during this time of uncertainty?’” Frederick said, noting they want The Quake to still offer students the opportunity to express themselves and continue learning the art of radio.
“Also, we want to give a sense of continuity to our audience despite this abrupt and new lifestyle we now have,” he added. “The Quake is still rocking out and can be depended upon as a constant in our listeners’ lives.”
Frederick noted another benefit of the station’s continuity is proving that, by adapting to what has been forced upon them, they don’t have to give up their passions.
“If The Quake can remain productive and optimistic, then hopefully we can inspire our community to do the same,” he said.
Woodward took The Quake’s mobile broadcasting unit home with him after Spring Break so he can continue to present his show, “Country Power Hour,” a three-time weekly broadcast that was one of the original programs when the radio station debuted in February 2019.
Wiget noted that, when they assembled the mobile unit for covering sports and other live events, he never dreamed there would be an occasion in which the campus would close and the sole original broadcasting would be accomplished remotely.
When Wiget stopped by the campus to pick up materials needed for teaching his now-online communication classes, he secured equipment from the radio station to supplement items he already had in the event he wished to broadcast on The Quake.
“One night, I was lying in bed thinking about how we could produce some sort of program that would help folks communicate better during the closure,” he said. “It came to me that I could interview folks and call it Quarantined Quakers — if nothing else, the name is alliterative!”
Wiget stressed how verbal communication possesses a “richness and sense of humanity when folks are able to hear familiar voices during a time like this.”
He plans to continue hosting “Quarantined Quakers” at least as long as the stay-at-home regulation remains intact and he finds guests to interview.
“I’m hopeful that some type of show like this will continue with students ending up taking over my duties as host,” he said. “When we started The Quake, I said one key to success would be our ability to create unique programming that cannot be heard anywhere else.
“We can listen to music in a lot of different ways, but we cannot hear the voices of our WC community elsewhere.”
Frederick, who hosted a pair of shows, The Green Room and The Outlier, during the regular school year, is content for now promoting Quarantined Quakers.
“The show to me is a way to help people remember they still have a family at WC even though we cannot be with each other physically right now,” he said. “I think it’s important during this time to give people a chance to stay connected with the WC community — we are a campus family!”