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KRLX reopens studio and Record Library for Class of 2021, others broadcast from afar

After three terms of virtual radio, KRLX is opening the studio space and Record Library to radio hosts in the class of 2021. Seniors who have had radio shows before will be allowed to use these spaces during their show time but must follow Carleton’s COVID-19 guidelines and specific rules created for the space.

The KRLX board announced in an email last Saturday, April 10, that seniors will be invited to host radio shows in person, one hour apart. The COVID-19 Safety Team visited the site in order to approve it for students. One student will be allowed in each station, and two students will be allowed in the Record Library at any given time. Masks are required, hand sanitizer is available and lots of signage about COVID-19 protocol decorates the studio.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last March, radio at Carleton has drastically changed. Students no longer need to wake up at 4:00 a.m., run to the basement of Sayles, and begin playing music or talking live on air to whoever happens to be listening. Instead, students are given prime time slots and broadcast from anywhere. KRLX events once held in the Record Library are now on Zoom or outside. Despite the changes, students have managed to maintain the integrity of KRLX. As KRLX Programming Director Lauren Witmer ’23 notes, “the spirit of radio lives on”. 

Even so, there is something about the in-person studio that draws students in, especially students who have had in-person radio shows before. Following the announcement last Saturday, a flurry of seniors signed up for radio shows. Students are looking forward to returning to the studio, even if it is at limited capacity. As DJ Felipe Jimenez ’21 puts it, “So much of the magic and beauty of radio is intertwined with having a particular place to be able to transmit from. When I think of KRLX I naturally think of the studio”. 

Despite being unable to use studio space as sophomores, Ann Beimers ’23 and Elise Hudson ’23 continue to passionately host their radio shows remotely. Hudson knew she wanted to be involved in KRLX before she even got to Carleton. “I’m crazy about music and came into Carleton knowing I wanted to do a radio show,” she said. Since starting her show, Pickled Fish, in Fall 2019, Hudson said that it “has pretty much stayed the same, though the weekly themes have definitely got a bit more cohesive. I make playlists based around a new theme each week.” Some previous themes have been songs about the moon, songs about time and talking songs. Within each weekly theme, Hudson plays a true variety of musical genres, but she has a special place for punk music: “I usually go for 70s New York and British punk and 80s West Coast stuff specifically.” 

Even during the pandemic, where Hudson and others have had to host their shows far from the Record Library, she speaks to the importance of the KRLX community, stating “the KRLX community has been a super fun and meaningful part of my Carleton experience.” Hudson is even a music director on the board now. During previous terms, Hudson has hosted other radio shows as well, including one with a fellow Carl which listened to and discussed a new album every week, and a show where she talked about the history of glam rock. 

Beimers has only ever hosted a radio show virtually, but she said that hasn’t lessened her experience in any way. AM Radio, the show she co-hosts with Maxine Rosenfeld ’23, decides on a weekly theme, and  then “we each choose five or six songs that match the theme. Our music tastes blend pretty well so we don’t have to worry too much about making it cohesive,” said Beimers. Beimers and Rosenfeld play a wide variety of music, but some favorite bands include The Strokes, HAIM, Polo & Pan, The Beths and Vampire Weekend. 

Similar to Hudson, Beimers is also on the board, and is one of her favorite things about being involved with KRLX. She noted that, “I really enjoy collaborating with the other people on the board because everyone is so passionate and excited about the future of KRLX… everyone who is involved with KRLX is incredibly lovely.” 

Although Beimers has never broadcasted from the Record Library, she has fond memories of the space, “I do remember spending time in the Record Libe when it was open before the pandemic began. Attending Music Club was such a fun and chill way to meet new people. I am really looking forward to hosting Music Club in person again eventually!”

If all goes well, KRLX will invite the class of 2024 to the studio later this term. This year, despite lower numbers of shows, the freshman class remains active in radio. Giving them a chance to be in the studio would allow for the classic KRLX experience, something they have not had the chance to experience yet. 

The return to studio space marks a return to radio tradition. The current studio space was created in the mid-eighties during a revamp of Sayles Hill. Since then, countless students have used the space to share news, develop radio hosting skills and play music with friends. After a year of virtual radio, it will be exciting for seniors to return to the studio and for first-years to see the studio for the first time. 

As students begin to return to the studio, the KRLX board reflects on what elements of radio during COVID-19 will stay and what will not. Being online has allowed for creative styles of shows. Radio remains worthwhile for many. Despite a reduction in the number of shows and all-virtual radio, KRLX gained many freshman DJs. According to Witmer, many of the first-years involved are able to find a sense of community within KRLX. 

When asked about future directions for KRLX, former station manager Cole Schiffer ’21 explains that in the coming years it is likely that there will be a mix of virtual and in-person shows. Transitioning this term to a hybrid model is the first step towards a new era of radio at Carleton.

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