WPPJ returns to the studio

Written By Kylie Thomas, Co-Features and A&E Editor

Even though coronavirus has taken a toll on many clubs and activities, student-run radio station WPPJ started running all its shows the week of Oct. 5. Featuring 41 podcasts and radio shows this semester, WPPJ is in full swing and ready to provide this semester’s listening comfort. 

Cole D’Alicandro, the WPPJ General Manager, has been working hard to work out the kinks of running a radio station during a global pandemic. It has taken a lot of planning from the spring to now, but the adaptation is now in place. 

“It’s been a rollercoaster!”  D’Alicandro said. “I started as general manager last spring, and we ran normally until March where at the end of the month we shut down out of caution. During the summer Dave Fabilli, our advisor, gave guidance on what we should do, relating it to how other professional radio stations are operating.”

Currently, the station requires that only one host per on-air show is allowed, shows with two hosts need pre-approval and must record in the Center for Media Innovation Podcast Suite where social distancing is possible. All DJs are provided a pop filter cover for the microphone as well and are encouraged to bring their own headphones as the community ones have been taken out of the studio. Lastly, all shows must leave their last five minutes of their hour slot time for post-show cleaning where everything touched must be wiped down. 

While it takes a little adjusting, for “Queer Ear” radio show host, Leo Basinger, the change has been nothing compared to everything else happening in the world. 

“WPPJ has had the least amount of changes and it’s been very refreshing,”  Basinger said. “While all my classes and social activities have all changed, this has stayed almost the same. It’s nice to have that anchor.”

When it came to making the choice to return to WPPJ, for some DJs like “Point Punk” show host, Dan Russo, it was no question. 

“The fact that the pandemic cut last semester’s shows short made coming back an easy decision,”  Russo said. “I missed it the most while we were learning from home. WPPJ is awesome because you are given a lot of freedom to produce whatever type of show you want. The diversity and creativity on display here are unlike anything else on campus.”

Even though this semester may not be completely normal for WPPJ, that is not stopping the station from running its 40th annual Rock-a-Thon. Rock-a-Thon is an annual, 67-hour broadcast event to raise money for The Early Learning Institute. This year, the event will be taking place from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30. 

“Currently, Rock-a-Thon will be taking place in person with the donation table in the Lawrence Hall second floor hallway,”  D’Alicandro said. “I’ve been working closely with our Events Coordinator, Meghan Fitzsimmons, to ensure this one will be a success. We’ve been having DJs sign up for time slots this week, and I am excited for as many people as possible to help us celebrate the 40th anniversary of this Point Park tradition.”

Rock-a-Thon is a highlight for the DJs especially. It gives them a chance to relax and play music for a great cause. 

“Of course, I’m excited to do weekly shows, but I’m especially excited for Rock-A-Thon in the coming weeks,”  Russo said. “It’s just an excuse to play more jams, and this time it’s for a good cause.” 

While this semester has been a hectic experience, WPPJ is able to provide a spot for DJs and listeners alike to take an hour out of their day to just forget everything happening in the world and explore their love of podcasts and music. 

“The freedom WPPJ offers and how different it is from my classes and major is the best thing about it,”  Basinger said. “Having an hour to just listen to music and have fun is the highlight of my week.”