With a new location and a new general manager, the students that run the university's radio station, WDCE 90.1, say they hope more people will tune in. The WDCE staff recently selected Ben Russell as its new general manager.
Russell, a sophomore marketing major, DJs a hip-hop show on the station and has been making music for six years."I grew up with music and it's in my blood," he said.
Russell is in the middle of making a hip-hop and soul album with a friend from Pittsburgh. He planned to work with other student organizations, like the Campus Activities Board, to bring a high-profile artist to Richmond and said he hoped to open for that artist.
According to Russell, the application for WDCE general manager asked more questions about organizational and communication skills than about musical background or knowledge of musical equipment.
"I think previously there were organization problems," Russell said. "I want to get everyone together and have an atmosphere with more community. People should know who I am and be involved in my decision making."
Max Vest, director of student activities and adviser to the radio station, said it was much more important to hire a general manager who was organized and communicated well than one who was familiar with the equipment.
"It's a tough job and there are not a lot of people who are interested in taking on that responsibility," Vest said.
"Being well organized and getting along well with people is more important than knowing which dial to turn. Finding the right general manager is a personnel challenge rather than an electronic challenge."
RCSGA President Matthew Whittaker, who sits on the WDCE advisory board and was involved in the decision to hire Russell, said that while organizational and communication skills are important, a knowledge of music was what would set you apart in the application process.
"You have to have those things to get the job done but what differentiates people is a passion for music," Whittaker said.
Russell said he hoped his background in music would help him run the station effectively. He had plans to advertise the station, get more people involved and get more students listening.
"This is obviously something he is passionate about," Whittaker said. "And he has some great ideas to get the radio station back on track and make some real improvements."
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Russell visited another local radio station to see how the equipment was set up and how its staff ran operations. He also planned to explore other radio stations' business models to see how to best advertise the station.
Most of the WDCE leadership staff are graduating seniors, so Russell had plans to recruit new DJs for the station. He also had a few friends that he wanted to get involved.
"It's more than just having more people doing it -- it is having dedicated people doing it," Russell said.
The radio station is moving to North Court, and as the new general manager, Russell planned to confront the challenge of a new location.v
"It is a great opportunity for them to take advantage of that change and make some changes with the structure of the organization as well," Whittaker said.
Vest said re-establishing an area and designing something that was going to be efficient for a number of years would be difficult for the WDCE staff. He also said they had mixed feelings about the new location because it was less convenient, parking was difficult for off-campus DJs and late night shows, and they would be directly under the religion department and student residences.
"On the third floor [of the Commons] we had the same issues," Vest said. "The Trustees suite was right across the hall. It's not like we haven't had to turn it down once in a while."
Vest said there was also a lot of stuff that had to be moved from the Commons to the new location, including the extensive CD collection.
Despite these challenges, Russell spoke positively about the opportunities that a new location would bring and the possibility of revamping the image of WDCE. Russell had met with the architect to talk about the design of the new studio, talked with Vest about the possibility of new equipment and recruited some local DJs to help with the restructuring.
"I want to get more people involved," Russell said. "The move to North Court could be something great"
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