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KDIC staff expresses concern about non-functionality

Grinnell College’s radio station, KDIC 88.5, has been non-operational both on radio and Internet broadcasting services since May of this year.

KDIC staff sought the assistance of Jim Davies, a radio engineer from University of Iowa, through the Director of Campus Center Operations and Student Activities Michael Sims.

KDIC studio managers Steven Duong, Sarah Phillips and Lydia James, all ‘19, are uncertain as to the exact cause of the station’s non-functionality.

“There were a lot of storms last spring, and there was one major one where JRC lost power. [Davies] has not completely determined what has caused the issue. He thinks the FM transmitter was fine for a while, but that power blow may have fried the console,” said Phillips.

“It’s about 20 years old, so it really needs some serious rewiring … what we know of the repairs right now is that with all of the rain right now there is some flooding in the Iowa City area, and he has two AM stations he’s been helping out with. He’s been working with the transmitter a little bit … but he’s never had one malfunction like how ours is right now, so that’s causing a lot of issues,” said James.

KDIC management had hoped the station would be functional in time for radio applications this fall semester. According to Phillips, Sims indicated over email that a technician would be brought in over the summer, but had trouble contacting a specialist. KDIC staff maintained correspondence with Sims over the summer, and believe their emails got lost or deprioritized by Student Activities.

“We were under the impression over the summer that this would be a thing that Michael Sims and other people not in our realm would take care of … before the school year started,” said Duong.

Updating KDIC’s technology has long been a goal of management, given the age of its soundboard and pre-existing technical issues like a broken headphone jack and wiring issues. KDIC management may have no choice but to invest in a new soundboard given the uncertainty of what caused the station’s non-operability or what the specific issues are with its technology. According to James, the station set aside money recently for a new soundboard that would come out of its official budget, which they indicated at a recent SPARC budget meeting.

“They haven’t told us how much it’s going to cost, and it comes from our budget and our wages,” James said.

“SPARC in general is pretty slashed because of the new [activities manager],” Duong said. Phillips was quick to add that SPARC budget cuts were stressful for KDIC in particular, since their budget was essentially halved.

“And we don’t have any quotes, not even a ballpark,” James said.

KDIC staff remains hopeful that the station will be returned to working order soon, though they are wary, given unanswered questions.

“I think it’s just a matter of time waiting for the equipment to get fixed. We still have the recording and listening rooms … I don’t want to say it will take all semester to get KDIC FM back online, because it could be that Jim fixes this next week and we get all our systems right. But we had this expected timeline and when it’s not being met, we’re wondering why,” Phillips said.

The KDIC recording studio hasn’t been up and running since the summer. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.
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  • J

    JoealumOct 12, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Shame on the college for not helping to get this resolved over the summer. If a storm fried your console, shouldn’t you have some insurance coverage?