As the state begins to move into new phases of reopening, many businesses and organizations have had to determine their own reopening plans. WKNC 88.1, NC State’s student-led campus radio, is no exception.
WKNC has been broadcasting throughout the entirety of the pandemic but has relied on a collection of autoplaying music because no one has been allowed in the studio. WKNC General Manager Laura Mooney, a fourth-year studying social work and psychology, has worked with Jamie Lynn Gilbert, WKNC’s station manager, and together they have determined that WKNC will be entering phase 1 of reopening Saturday, July 11.
According to Mooney, phase 1 consists of several changes to the structure of how DJ shifts operate. These changes include:
DJ shifts being scheduled an hour apart to allow for cleaning and to avoid DJs crossing paths when leaving and entering shifts
Guests and in-person interviews will not be allowed
Shift attendance will be reported to the Division of Academic and Student Affairs leadership each week
All DJs are required to wipe down all furniture and equipment at the beginning of every shift with disinfecting wipes provided by the studio
DJs must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the studio, and must wear a face mask outside of the studio
DJs will be provided with personal microphone covers that must be sprayed with Lysol after use, and DJs will be still be required to bring their own headphones
DJs will be allowed to take on-air shifts, but it will not be mandatory. All paid staff will follow the same rules but will still be encouraged to work remotely, and any staff meetings of more than three people will be required to be held remotely.
According to Mooney, this decision was left almost entirely up to them and Gilbert once Witherspoon Student Center was opened again. They said the University’s response has been neutral, but foresee the biggest issue may be rebuilding the attention of the campus community.
Mooney said working to reopen the station in as many ways and as safely as possible is important because local radio, student radio and student media fill a role that cannot be easily filled by others.
“I think that local radio is incredibly important because it highlights a group of artistry and news that may not be given its due attention or may be struggling to get attention because of a lack of resources, a lack of interest, a lack of community surrounding, a variety of things,” Mooney said. “What we’ve seen with a lot of the protests going on downtown, some news sources are getting it wrong, whether it’s because they have an agenda or they’re just trying to pump the information out quickly. I think that a benefit of student radio and student media in general is that we have a greater intrinsic motivation to get things right.”
Mooney said the time being closed has allowed them to reflect on some things that need to be changed at the station. Referencing a stationwide running joke about the same blanket being in the office for longer than some of the DJs have been alive, Mooney hopes to bring a focus to cleanliness in the station, as well as communication between the staff when they are not together in person.
“I think that there is a great desire for all industries to return to the concept of ‘before,’” Mooney said. “I think that we need to take this opportunity, as difficult as it is to call such a humanitarian crisis an opportunity, to reflect on what we were doing wrong and what we can improve upon.
Looking to the future, phase 2 will consist of largely the same rules with more people allowed in the studio at a time, according to Mooney. Phase 3 will consist of similar rules with DJ shifts being mandatory, and paid staff will continue to be allowed to work remotely, but will not be encouraged to do so. Phase 4 will be back to almost normal with more cleaning procedures.
According to Mooney, interest meetings for new station DJs will be held Wednesday, Aug. 5, and Monday, Aug. 10, at 6 p.m. on Zoom. For more information, visit the station’s website or contact General Manager Laura Mooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Editor’s Note: Laura Mooney is a member of Student Media.