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The Scarlet & Black

KDIC revamps and rakes in rewards

Conventional wisdom says that people, in general, don’t listen to radio anymore. Sure, there will always be those who, with their horn-rimmed glasses and vinyl collection, could stand in for Ira Glass given the opportunity, but when it comes to music these days, dotcoms like YouTube and Pirate Bay have replaced labels and downloadable podcasts are the new talk shows. It makes one wonder: why would anyone listen to radio anymore? Jordan Bell-Masterson ’12, station manager of KDIC, is not trying to fix all of radio, but he seems to have found the answer to that question for our local station.

Daniel Kisslinger ’14 is responsible for bringing interviews with artists like Lupe-Fiasco to the KDIC airwaves. Photograph by Emma Sinai Yunker

“[KDIC] could have survived for another few years just floating along,” Bell-Masterson said, “but SPARC was cutting funding and probably rightfully so, ’cause the station wasn’t doing much of anything. I felt like there was a lot of wasted potential there. A lot of people were putting on good shows and a lot of staff were doing good work, and it was going unrecognized because the quality wasn’t there and when it was there, KDIC just wasn’t a big enough presence on campus for anyone to take note.”

The main goals Bell-Masterson held for the station can be stated simply, he wants to professionalize and revitalize it. At the beginning of last semester Bell-Masterson and his staff of 21 students instituted several changes ranging from training, to paying and critiquing DJs, to creating targeted play lists for open air time and revamping the website.

They have also expanded their services: KDIC now provides DJs for Harris parties and other music powered events. In fact, last semester, only one Harris party was not DJ’ed by a KDIC DJ. KDIC also partnered with Lyle’s to throw a Superbowl party. And if all that wasn’t enough, for the purpose of just getting the station identification out there, graphic designer Chris Gallo constantly designs posters featuring new content.

“We do posters on a biweekly basis,” Gallo wrote in an email. “KDIC is constantly publishing new and original content, whether it be album reviews, interviews with different artists or photography from concerts that have come through campus. As a station, we want an ad campaign that reflects this new attitude and constantly reminds students that we are producing new material.”

The changes seem to have had a drastic effect.

“For the top show, before it was getting ten listeners,” Bell-Masterson said. “Top shows now get 50, 60, 70 listeners. We’re getting new advanced metrics now where we can tell not just who’s tuning in but who is staying for at least a 15-minute session so we can get an idea of retention rate.”

From Claire Griffith ’12’s Mravalzhamier (folk music from the Caucusus and Balkans) to Karinou Mboka-Boyer ’14’s The Mis(x)fit Show (an hour of fire and announcements to get us ready for the weekend) to Erica Hauswald ’12 and Jackie Blair ’12’s The Jerica Blauswald show (Based off NPR’s All Things Considered, the show brings you new music across all genres and incorporates interesting facts about the artist), KDIC is a reflection of students’ varied and often eccentric interests.

“You’ve got a mix of pretty much everything, and I would say everything but country, but Matt Rosenbaum [’12] and Ryan Creps [’12] are going to be on the air in a week or two,” Bell-Masterson said.

And changes are still being made. Joe Harris ’14 was recently hired to restart KDIC’s sports broadcasting programming with the goal of covering every home sports event. Bell-Masterson feels that there is definitely a sense that KDIC is making some serious, fundamental changes and that this momentum will continue.

“We have a lot left to do and, … given what I know about my younger staff, they are going to do a hell of good job,” Bell-Masterson said. “One thing that has really energized us [this year] was that Daniel Kisslinger [’14] has done ridiculously good work in getting interviews. And when he got the Lupe Fiasco interview…it said to us, ‘look at the kind of impact we can make, if we only try here.’”

Kisslinger, who had a show last year as a first-year, works as both a DJ and Studio Director. His show, Erasing Boundaries, is entirely interview-based and after working this past summer at a radio station back home in New York, Kisslinger found ways to contact and interview some pretty impressive names. But what impresses him is the commitment and willingness of the staff and DJs to do the work necessary to make KDIC better. Interviewing major artists and getting recognition for it, is a different feeling and it’s hard to say which one Kisslinger appreciates more.

“For all intents and purposes, we started from scratch this year,” Kisslinger said. “This station was a non-factor in a lot of ways. So to get to where we are now, which is the jumping off point for all the other million things we can do…As much as you can do in one year, when it’s a continuation…it’s incredible.”

And Kisslinger has played a major role in making KDIC professional. The Lupe Fiasco interview was just one of many and people outside of Grinnell are starting to take notice. For instance, Matthew Santos, who is also featured on Kisslinger’s show and often plays with Lupe, stopped by Grinnell College because it happened to be on his way and he knew Kisslinger’s show was credible.

“Matthew was just driving back from Des Moines to Chicago so he just hopped off I-80,” Kisslinger said. “It’s like the only convenient thing about being where we are.”

Fans are taking notice, too. When Kisslinger, in conjunction with fellow DJs Annie Pigott ’12 and Dane Haiken ’12 interviewed They Might be Giants, the band tweeted that they would be on KDIC. As a result, a fan in Australia tuned in, caught the last ten minutes and emailed the station to see if he could download the taping of the show somewhere. KDIC has not yet uploaded every show’s podcast up, but the project is in process and, at any rate, Kisslinger has been posting his interviews to his own site.

“That kind of thing could have never happened before,” Bell-Masterson said. “But now we’re starting to get that kind of notoriety, get that kind of pull and the possibilities are endless.”

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  • E

    Eve BodenFeb 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Really impressive article. Clearly shows how well your station and innovative staff are doing.

  • K

    Katherine ChungFeb 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    This is a great article Schoelzy! Good work!

  • D

    Dave Buck, KDIC station mgr '80-'81Feb 18, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Congrats to Bell-Masterson and able and ambitious crew! Keep it up!

  • J

    Josh Tetenbaum '10Feb 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    As the former station manager of KDIC, this is wonderful to hear. You all are doing great work.

  • D

    Daniel KisslingerFeb 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

    way 2 go, guys!