WRMC: Sound Waves

By Joe Flaherty

Snake Pit with Adeline Cleveland ’13.5 & Alan Sanders ’13.5

Middlebury Campus (MC): How did you form?

Addy: Both of us came together at the beginning of this semester. We’ve been friends for a while and we’ve each had different shows all four years. We’re in our last semester, and our former partners graduated last year, so we were just chatting one day and decided to do a story together.

MC: How did you come up with the name?

Alan: I came over to Addy’s house one day, and her friend from high school was there, and he works in a reptile house.

Addy: He makes snakes, like he alters different parts of their DNA.

Alan: It was a wild experience. And the next day we were supposed to fill out the application. So we came up with SnakePit.

MC: How would you describe the sound of your show?

Alan: We are a hip-hop show, but we also play a lot of new electronic and electronic-pop acts.

Addy: It’s not really a theme every show, but sometimes a common thread will appear as the show goes on and we kind of just go from there, depending on the flow of the show.

Alan: We try to play new music as much as possible – we play what came out each week.

MC: Three adjectives.

Alan: Slithery

Addy: Dangerous

Alan: Venomous

MC: Why should listeners tune in?

Addy: We generally play songs that flow well into each other so it’s nice to listen not only for one song, but the show is pretty coherent as a whole, and our banter is pretty on point. It’s intentional and informative. Alan is pretty knowledgeable and up-to-date on the artists and albums we’re playing, and I don’t know that stuff. So we’re not both talking at people, we’re both conversing.

Alan: It’s a good way for listeners to get to know new music and new artists. Also, our show is on a Thursday night, so people can listen when they’re in the library studying or in their dorm rooms, not studying. Eighty percent of our listeners are from town, not on campus. Our listeners vary between lots of different age groups.

MC: How do you broadcast to listeners across different age groups?

Addy: Making a conscious effort to not just have our conversation center around stuff that happens at the College. We definitely bring things that are happening on campus, but I think by keeping our conversation centered around current pop events and music, that’s easier to relate to than two students talking about Proctor dining hall.

Second Hand Groove Machine with Jebb Norton ‘13.5 and Eric Benepe ‘13.5

MC: How did you form?

Jebb: Destiny.

Erik: We went to the first meeting our second semester, and we had known each other before. We had very similar musical taste and decided to do a show together.

MC: How would you describe your musical style?

Erik: We do a different genre every week, we have different themes. Sometimes we’ll pick a genre, sometimes we’ll pick a period in musical history, sometimes we’ll play instrumental beats with different speeches we’ve gotten by famous people.

Jebb: We did a show for Shel Silverstein a month ago. We played a bunch of his poetry and songs that he wrote and stuff by his friends. We have fun with it.

Erik: Basically, we both listen to a lot of music and on our show we try to play things that we’re interested in and use it as a way to find out more about the music we like.

MC: Three adjectives.

Jebb: I’d say funky. More than most people would think of, I think funk music is about doing what you want to do, and we definitely bring the funk.

Erik: Goofy. We get kind of ridiculous sometimes. We’ve got a solid core of fans, but sometimes we get callers and we have no idea who they are.

Jebb: I like it because every week, we have a two hour period where we never do work. It’s just a period where we can listen to music and talk, or just think. It’s just a separate mind space from normal time at Middlebury.

MC: Do you think that vibe is communicated to your listeners?

Jebb: Yeah totally, I hope so. If we were doing homework, I think they would know. It would change, we wouldn’t be as engaged.

MC: Do you plan ahead?

Erik: We’ve gotten to a point where we don’t know how to plan that much. We know each other’s music style well enough and we have good chemistry. We sort of improvise what sounds good.

MC: Why should listeners tune in to your show?

Erik: Because we emphasize playing good music, and we don’t talk too much. When we do talk, we try to contribute things to teach people about the music.

Jebb: We don’t ask each other what we had for lunch, and then talk about it for fifteen minutes. People should listen to us because everyone needs an escape. And that’s what we give.

Rock in Rio with Fabiana Benediini ‘15 and Jess Parker ‘16

MC: What is Rock and Rio?

Benedini: So Rock in Rio is actually not a world show, it’s Brazilian music – Brazilian country and rock.  Brazilian rock says a lot about Brazilian history so most of the bands complain about the government and how corrupt it is. There are a lot of songs about disillusionment and anger and those are really good.  And Brazilian country is about Brazilian daily culture, so heartbreak, drinking a lot and women.

MC: How did the show start?

Benedini: Jess and I were having dinner at Proctor. She wants to learn Portuguese so I said okay, let’s have a show so you can practice by listening to music and you can talk in Portuguese.  Her mom’s Brazilian and she wants to learn Portuguese so she knows a little bit and she’s taking Portuguese for Spanish speakers right now.

MC: Do you speak Portuguese on the air?

Benedini: We do speak in Portuguese to each other when she asks about the lyrics.

MC: Are the songs from growing up in Brazil or are they more modern?

Benedini: It’s hard to find modern songs but I can usually message my friends in Brazil and they can tell me what good music is going on right now.  So I get input from Brazilians.

MC: When does the show air?

Benedini: It airs Wednesdays from 7 AM to 8 AM. It’s super early.  It feels like it’s super early.  It’s so fun to see Jess there and hang out with her.  And it’s a good way to start our morning, especially because it’s music about heartbreak or anger – it’s hilarious.

MC: What you might hear:

Capital Inicial,  “It is usually about corruption or disillusionment and it is rock.”

Ivete Sangalo, “It’s pump up music.  It’s a style that is very typical of Brazil.”

MC: Any callers?

Benedini: Jess’s mom called once.

Almost Famous with Ben Goldberg ’14 and Maddie Dai ’14

MC: As the General Manger, what is your role at WRMC?

Goldberg: I kind of do a little bit of everything. I am learning as I go. The official description of my position is I’m the student president [of WRMC], I’m responsible for budget and the money side of things. We have a business director for that as well but I’m very much involved. I’m also a link between us and the administration, student activities and probably most significantly, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  On a day-to-day basis, making sure everyone else is doing what they need to be doing.  So, it’s a full time job.

MC:  What would be your pitch to listen to WRMC?

Goldberg: It’s nothing like anything else you have on the air in Addison County – commercial free radio, tastefully picked music. We’re not catering to a certain audience, we’re not playing just top 40 hits.

Dai: There’s a lot of banter, there’s a joke a minute.

Goldberg: It’s nice to hear a range of student voices giving input.  It’s a surprisingly personal experience to listen to someone’s show and what they’re up to and what they’re listening to.

Dai: If you’re driving a car, what else are you going to do?

Goldberg: All the shows are pretty different. We are predominately music, alternative music (whatever that means), but it’s at least diverse to some degree. We try to make it as diverse as possible but the fact that you’re listening to peers or even to someone you don’t know playing music they care about, have something to say about and want to share that with you, that’s a way to connect with other people.  It’s so much more fulfilling than just putting on your iPod or putting on a CD when you have someone crafting a playlist for you.

MC: Almost Famous’ description says, “From boy bands to mental breakdowns.” What does that mean?

Dai: We go through all those iterations. One day we’ll be a boy band and the next we’ll have a mental breakdown.  It’s actually our third show together and it’s been the evolution of us. We started in Oxford, we went abroad there.

Goldberg: Oxcide student radio.

Dai: There’s not many things Middlebury does better than Oxford but radio would be one of them. They have more Nobel prize winners in general but we have a good radio station.  So we went there and then we had a show last semester called Zig-a-Zig-Ah which was a Nineties tribute show and now we do pop.

Goldberg: It was sort of a natural evolution. On our first show, Back to the Boombox, we would pick a different era of music but focusing on some sort of pop era, more or less.

Dai: We relive a lot of our childhood memories. But at a time when we were extremely awkward probably and it’s not necessarily overly sentimental, at an exciting time of middle school dances.

Goldberg: Maddie and I come from wildly different places but strangely enough we are able to connect through Nineties pop culture.  That was the foundation of Zig-a-Zig-Ah and we didn’t want to have to be stuck playing just nineties music and the nineties music we were listening to for the most part was pop or some variation thereof. So now on Almost Famous we’ll do each week a different phenomenon in pop music.

Dai: Not to intellectualize it but it is interesting to look at pop as industrialized, very attuned to different cultural fads and movements and the movement from boy bands to girl bands.

Goldberg: We’re taking a stab at sociology.

Dai: Via Wikipedia.

Goldberg: Neither of us are trained sociologists.  I still haven’t taken a sociology class but we can speak at length about Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake or Beyoncé and it’s nice because everyone who’s listening knows what we’re talking about.

MC: What are some typical songs or artists on Almost Famous?

Goldberg: Lately there’s been a lot of Lorde.

Dai: And also because I’m a New Zealander so I’m shamelessly promoting her.

Goldberg: And also her album is just objectively pretty good.

Dai: Britney is often the epicenter from which we like to compare other artists, in terms of her career that’s gone through so many evolutions, rising and falling, so there is some Britney but we talk about her more than we play her.

Goldberg: I don’t feel like there is a pattern in the artists we play but I guess as far as pop goes we play a lot of Beyoncé, Rihanna here and there, Justin Timberlake.  Music we respect, whether as individuals we respect them or we respect their music.

Soul Food with Josh Swartz ’14.5 and Alia Khalil ’14.5

MC: Tell me about the formation of Soul Food.

Swartz: I spent part of the summer in New Orleans and inspired by the music culture down there and going to see live music down there and pretty much everyday thing that people do. That’s something that I loved. It’s also just the time of our show from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when ppl are just finishing up classes, getting a burger at Proctor and getting ready for the weekend. It’s easy to listen to, puts you in a good mood, old and new. This is the first semester that SF has been in existence. Alia and I have a good rapport. We have a good time.

MC: Explain what Soul Food is.

Khalil: It’s two friends sharing their music with all their other friends. In every set, there’s definitely one song you can fit your taste to. We play a lot of different types of music, but even within the soul genre, there are older and recent songs.

Swartz: A big part of the show is us bantering about Halloween costumes and favorite animals, community events, and things that happen at Middlebury. Our last guest has a particularly good Norah Jones impression. Our conversation focuses on light-hearted fun things, like talking about Halloween or movies. The tone of our conversation is very upbeat and easy to listen to. It is something we’re conscious of: everything we do is geared toward a universal audience.

Khalil: Regardless of if you’re in Middlebury or not, you’re able to understand our conversations. A lot of radio shows have inside jokes, but that is not us.

MC: What does the music do to you?

Khalil: It energizes you. We always say it is music that feeds your soul so it’s not limited. Our generation doesn’t realize how versatile soul music can be which can include lyrical ballads or some songs with strong beats.

Swartz: One tradition is that we always end every show with the same song: “September” by Earth Wind and Fire. That song really legitimizes what our show is about. Everyone recognizes it; it’s a happy song. It used to make more sense because it used to be September. Now we just use it to feed people’s souls.

MC: What is the best show moment to go down in Soul Food history?

Swartz: We got a call from Vergennes, who I think calls in to WRMC a lot — so this might not have been that special — but he said, “Wow, I really loved the show” and was super supportive. I actually think that he is someone who calls in pretty frequently, but I like to pretend that he just called in our show.

Khalil: My favorite moment was when we introduced “September” for the first time and we were just kind of joking about autumn activities and announced that we were going to. Closes the show.

Swartz: From that moment, we could both feel it was the start of a very powerful tradition. It happened in our very first show; it happened so organically.

MC: What can you guarantee that your listener will hear when they tune into the show?

Khalil: You will hear Josh’s awesome radio voice, which a is a bit of an alter ego from his normal voice. He sounds like a radio DJ who plays soul music.

Swartz: We always talk about a concert that is happening or happened at Middlebury. We do talk about local music scenes. In our last show, we played Apenglow to promote that concert on Higher Ground on Sunday. There’s a local consciousness to our show. That’s being part of the Middlebury community and the Vermont community — that’s an important part of being a radio show.

Khalil: We both have different taste in music and we both complement each other in new bands we’ve heard of and introduce each other. Even in my own radio show, I’m always finding new songs.

The Campus Voice with Greta Neubauer ’14.5 and Ian Stewart ’14

MC: Explain to a 5th grader what the Campus Voice is.

Neubauer: The Campus Voice is a way to bring the work of the Middlebury Campus and its writers into broader dialogue with the members of the community who are commenters on the story written in the Campus. They relate to those issues and we make that vocal and in a dialogue, where people can interact beyond the pages.

MC: What is the difference between the dialogue on the Campus Voice and one with your friends?

Stewart: It seems in most conversations with your friends, you kind of try to get to an agreement on an issue. Whereas with the show, no one has to leave agreeing. Part of what we do is to try to tease out the distinct arguments that are being made at different sides of the issue. When you’re with your friends you’re less likely to push your friends that we can be with our host hats on.

Neubauer: The differences among people who go on the show are greater differences than those in our groups of friends. A lot of the friends that I have these conversations with — we all sort of have the same opinions about this issue. The Campus Voice brings the dialogue out of niches on campus.

MC: Why should someone who reads the newspaper want to tune into the show 4 days later?

Stewart: Issues are changing constantly on the campus. The dialogue is changing, new events are coming out, absurd emails are being sent out and are not being sent out and so the story, as with any story, evolves. This is a nice chance to check in a few days later. There’s not that pressure of the 500 or 600 words [in print]. Just tell the straight facts. Get your three quotes in. Tell it in this neat, closed story. Another thing is that it’s different to hear someone’s voice and to hear their pauses and their inflections and their emotions, their excitement. That’s something that no amount of adjectives and adverbs on print will be able to recreate. You’re taking out a layer and so you’re closer to the people and story than you might be with a story on the page.

Neubauer: I also think that we’re taking an issue that’s come up on campus and bringing it back to the broader conversation. Whether it’s homophobia on this campus or the topic of dialogue.

Kyle Finck: Also, moving forward the point is not only to read the news but to interact with the news, so in terms of submitting questions, getting them answered, whether it’s having Dean Collado on or a student provoked by Collado’s blog. This is about interacting with the news.

MC: What is the best moment captured on your show?

Stewart: The one I keep thinking about is when we did a show on spoken word artists and hip-hop rap artists on campus. To see their art on campus and the way they talked about it was almost seamless. I was so blown away by their articulateness in the Q&A part of the interview that I felt like it was an extension of the rhymes and language in their art.

Neubauer: That too was my favorite moment of the show. There was something really special about seeing the performance and the question. I always love when I go to an art museum and I want to hear the whole description of the painting on an audio guide or docent and so I really like to hear interpretation. That was cool to hear them in spoken terms give us that description. Similarly, talking about the interpretation of Chance’s lyrics. I come to a different place on the issue having engaged with people who talking about it a lot.

Stewart: The idea that you can change our opinion in a conversation in the same way it had naturally is unique to the radio. You’re just selecting snapshots in newspaper — that’s what is going to represent what you felt at that moment and that’s valuable, but we have the chance to change someone’s mind over the course of the show and see the evolution the same way it happens to us sitting there and listening.

MC: What’s one thing you can promise listener in every show?

Stewart: Almost everytime when someone says something, they were sincere about it. You will hear a true sincere moment that is not a sound byte. It’s something they thought about or believed.

Neubauer: You think you understand Middlebury, you talk in classes but it’s not the same as hearing people’s perspectives. It’s surprising. I have this idea that I understand Middlebury and its student body, and it’s not true.