Collegian Reporter

If you've been tuning in to the campus radio station recently, you're most likely getting a speaker full of static instead of the usual indie-rock riffs and underground hip-hop rhythms.

That's because after 30 years of broadcasting from the third floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons, WDCE 90.1 FM is moving to a new location pocketed in the North Court basement.

The move is the result of continued renovation to the Commons. The new station will be under construction until late October, with programming resuming shortly afterward.

Herb King, a music director for WDCE who has been with the station for 10 years, was initially skeptical about the switch.

"At first I couldn't believe it would be turned into a radio station," King said. "It's 50 percent smaller square-foot wise than our place in the Commons."

King said the WDCE crew had worked with the university in planning the layout for the new station. They started from scratch -- gutting the room of pipes, wires and walls and installing new electrical and communication systems to fit their needs.

"It's a substantial amount of work," King said.

Despite the location's smaller size, the station crew seeks to completely reinvent WDCE using the new space. They've made room for a performance stage in the studio, so artists can come in and broadcast live music to the entire campus. They'll also start moving away from CDs, instead establishing a huge digital library of songs that seamlessly transitions between thousands of selections. And each piece of broadcasting technology and equipment will be getting an upgrade.

"There's about $30,000 in new equipment," said Ben Russell, current general manager of WDCE. "We're replacing all of the old-generation gear -- the boards, the speakers, the sound systems -- and updating everything."

Russell said the move wasn't finalized until March of this year, when the university told radio station staff they'd have to vacate the Commons. Russell and King spent the past summer sending plans to each other, trying to use the space to its highest potential.

"The school followed our plans for the most part," Russell said. "I'm happy with the way it turned out."

That's good news for the station's returning DJs. Scott Castro, a WDCE music director who broadcasts his own two-hour weekly show, is excited about the change.

"It's a fresh start," Castro said. "It's great. It could bring a new face to the station."

Castro is especially thrilled about the new performance space for live acts.

"I don't feel like we jumped on enough of those opportunities in the past," he said. "But now with the new space we can really take advantage of that. We can bring in local bands and touring musicians, and they can play right there in the studio live for the whole campus."

King is eager to start broadcasting from the new booth as well.

"We don't have as much visibility as we did in the Commons," he said. "So we're going to do everything we can with the new space. We're trying not to let people forget about WDCE, and that we're a part of this university."

King said the station would resume programming in late October.

Contact reporter Michael Gaynor at michael.gaynor@richmond.edu