WPPJ’s Rock-a-Thon returns for its 36th year

Written By Alexander Popichak, Editor-Elect

Vincent Ferrainola sits at his desk, surrounded by mountains of paper and stacks of demo CDs furiously sending off emails reminding people about show times and adding sticky notes with sponsors’ names on a cluttered monitor.

Ferrainola, a senior broadcast production and media management major, is preparing for the campus station WPPJ’s 36th annual Rock-a-Thon, slated to take place Nov. 1-4, 2016. Rock-a-Thon is an annual event featuring live performances and events. The station moves its on-air operation outside of its second floor studio and into the hallway by the Point Café. Rock-a-thon is WPPJ’s largest annual event and serves is a fundraiser for the Early Learning Institute (TELI).

“Rock-a-Thon is a three day, live 67-hour broadcast done right outside our studio in Lawrence where we play all kinds of music,” Ferrainola said. “We let anyone who is already part of WPPJ and other students that are interested go on air and try and raise money. We don’t limit you to talk about or play any certain kind of music; really the entire event is based around raising money for the Early Learning Institute.”

Ferrainola serves as the station’s general manager and this is his second Rock-a-Thon. The key to success in his eyes is seeking creative, innovative ways to raise money for TELI while getting WPPJ members involved.

“All the shows that you normally can hear on WPPJ when you tune in, you will be able to hear live in Lawrence Hall as well as over the air,” Ferrainola said.

Ferrainola said the added visual element provides a face to what otherwise is an anonymous medium and is a major way to raise awareness of the station.

To prepare for the event, Miranda Van Bramer, designing and printing off flyers, repeatedly references a table of chicken-scratched names.

Van Bramer is only in her third week on the job as assistant general manager but is in her second year at WPPJ having hosted a show last year. Van Bramer is working to deliver the tradition of 67 uninterrupted hours of broadcasting by managing the schedule of DJs.

While WPPJ never goes ‘off air,’ the station is only manned for about 60 hours a week and otherwise maintains a rotating automated playlist. For Rock-a-Thon, there will be DJs manning the station outside of the Point Café round the clock for the entire four-day stretch.

In order to secure a spot on the live rotation, students must donate $10 per hour of airtime, with all proceeds benefiting TELI. TELI is a Pittsburgh-based charity which specializes in healthcare and education of children aged 0-to-3 years with developmental delays. WPPJ has partnered with TELI for the entirety of Rock-a-Thon’s 36-year run.

“It’s based around raising money for the Early Learning Institute. That’s the entire aim of Rock-a-Thon,” Ferrainola said. “We have events and games and we just want people to come out and have fun.”

Rock-a-Thon will roar to life Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. with an opening ceremony, which, according to Ferrainola and Van Bramer, will feature the Mars High School marching band and an appearance by the University of Pittsburgh’s drumline.

Scheduled events include corn hole tournaments, a ‘Pie the President’ event featuring United Student Government President Blaine King, and a last-DJ-standing competition between the Morning Show and WPPJ Tonight, two of the station’s flagship daily shows.

Sam Morrison is a sophomore broadcast production and media management major and is one of the hosts of WPPJ’s Tonight Show.

“Rock-a-Thon this year is going to be a little different from the usual formula, but in a very good way,” Morrison said. “This year, it’s all about raising money for TELI, while keeping the fun of previous years.”

Morrison’s team will compete against the Morning Show in an effort to raise money. Whichever team raises the most money for TELI wins.

Van Bramer and Ferrainola both emphasized that this year will be larger in scale than in years past because of the number of DJs participating and the amount of money the station hopes to raise for TELI.

“We’re trying to attract more people to participate in the event,” Van Bramer said. “This year is actually the 36th annual Rock-a-Thon so we’ve been at it for almost four decades which is the longest running event of any organizations or clubs on campus.”

Van Bramer said the schedule of what shows will appear on the lineup will be posted outside the station during Rock-a-Thon and will be accessible online.  For more information on WPPJ, visit the station’s website at wppjradio.com.