Laura Mooney Picture

Meet Laura Mooney, a fourth-year studying social work who, for the past two years, has served as general manager for NC State’s student-run radio station, WKNC 88.1. The title “general manager” may sound a bit broad, and that’s exactly what the job is.

“I oversee the planning and execution of events and staff member daily duties for the entire station,” Mooney said. “In a remote setting, I’ve had my hand in all departments, trying to see what we can do with this current functioning, so [I do] a little bit of everything.”

This year especially, it was essential for Mooney to be highly flexible and creative in their leadership. The constant changes to campus operations initially forced WKNC staff to work from home. Following current regulations, in-studio work is optional, and strict cleaning protocols are in place. And yet, the station has been able to overcome these changes to maintain productivity and a sense of routine.

“We’re technically functioning as normal,” Mooney said. “A normal day is just you clock in and you leave when you’re done, and we coordinate duties around you.”

The story of Laura Mooney and WKNC is a bit of a love story. After their first year, Mooney was a bit disillusioned by the college experience. Struggling to find their niche, they experimented with the ballroom dancing club and other arts-oriented programs, but nothing fit quite right. It wasn’t until a conversation with high school friends on the train ride home that Mooney seriously considered WKNC as a creative outlet and community. 

Being a newcomer in an organization can be scary, and music and DJ culture can feel especially isolating for non-male creatives. 

“I’ve always had musician friends and kind of felt intimidated by the internalized patriarchy of, like, four dudes in a rock and roll band, and I am not that,” Mooney said.

Taking the leap and joining WKNC, Mooney wrote on their application they aspired to one day be general manager. In their time at the station, this dream and others have been realized. Mooney has had the opportunity to interview their favorite band twice, attend the Hopscotch music festival as a VIP and travel across the country. Most rewarding, though, was the chance to share their knowledge with incoming students. 

Mooney recently wrote a twenty page manual, detailing the ins and outs of using a digital audio workspace. Focusing on Audacity, they said they hope the accessibility of the software combined with the depth of their knowledge will encourage students to see music as a viable hobby or career, and one that is worth exploring.

Beyond the value of pursuing one’s interests, WKNC is a great way to meet a diverse group of people. Much like the variety in style and genre of music played on the station, DJs and staffers at WKNC represent all walks of life and schools of thought at NC State.

“When you find an ecosystem that works for you, there’s so many people there that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen,” Mooney said. “Things like Student Media and the arts culture and the design school [are] there, and it’s a whole world.”

Speaking with Mooney, it was clear they take great pride in their work. The past two years, they’ve helped WKNC delve further into videography and podcast production and have dramatically expanded their blog output as well as their number of paid staff. 

The diversification of Student Media is something to be excited about. It means that, despite any stereotyping of NC State as a strictly sports and engineering school, there is also a vast group of creative students eager to learn and share their passions with the world. For Mooney, working at the station has made their college experience a deeply fulfilling one.

“WKNC is everything to me,” Mooney said. “It keeps my days going.”