In an out-of-the-way corner on the third floor of the Student Center lies the beating heart of 91.3 WKNH, the school radio station. Behind a locked door, black walls splattered with neon paint and slightly intimidating band posters greet a new visitor to Keene State radio.
Despite an aggressive entrance the space was filled with smooth jazz ten minutes before Authority Kids 1.5, a radio show hosted by Michael “Base” Graham and Ryan “Flannel” Young. The two are known on air solely as their pseudonyms. Their radio show fills the two hours between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Saturday nights. Populating the airwaves with music and anecdotes their show is fun with some thought-provoking conversation and talk of new release dates. It started with some technical difficulties, but with a laugh the two hosts introduced themselves. Opening the night, Graham played “Riot Rhythm” by Sleigh Bells. A song with a crazy beat, it inspired a jerking, staccato dance in the DJ. Young countered with “On Melancholy Hill” by Gorillaz, a song with a completely different feeling but with just as strong a beat; the two went well together.
The night played on as such, with every few songs Graham and Young switching inputs. After several songs the hosts would take some time to talk about what had been played, how it compared to the artist’s earlier songs, and what else it sounded like. They never stopped smiling throughout these breaks, because they loved talking about music and they loved sharing. When asked about advertisements Young answered that yes, they have to play ads in the show. When they weren’t directly on air, the hosts were having a wonderful time, talking about their weeks and which new artists they were excited about playing. When asked “why a radio show?” Graham simply said, “I like being able to share some music. Hopefully one or two people will hear it and say ‘Solid, I like this.’” Young said, “I wanted to, it’s something fun, a good experience in college.” The room was slightly cramped, filled to the brim with sound gear. A clock on the wall simply informed “Stop… Hammer Time.” Dusty posters from the 1990s hung behind more modern equipment, all surrounding Graham and Young. On either side of the hosts, two huge towers filled with the guts of WKNH made the show possible. The left tower was a huge CD mixer complete with turntable for records and a jury-rigged input for iPods.
On the right was a big emergency broadcast system, for all the problems that could occur that the population had to know about. Everywhere there was free table space there was a speaker, filling the room with booming bass and haunting treble.
“Getting a radio show was surprisingly easy”, Graham informed. One simply needs to read the DJ handbook and take an hour-long test. As long as the hosts adhere to very strict but specific guidelines, they have a surprising amount of freedom in what they play. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines pretty much entail not playing or saying anything that could offend, which essentially are the “Seven Deadly Sins” of radio, the words that if said would loose one their broadcast license. Staying clear of that is fairly easy – one just has to be careful of song lyrics.
They continued the show with “Too Cold to Snow” by Second Person, a song with calm vocals and experienced back-up created a powerful sound. Melding well with Second Person, Jefferson Airplane filled the Keene airwaves for a few minutes with “She Has Funny Cars.” After came “The Man Machine” by Craftwork. The heavy electronic gave way to “Walk So High” by The Dovekins. One of Graham’s favorite bands, the song is a modern ballad, complete with harmonies and bells. Graham compared it to “one guy waltzing with an upright bass.” Radio shows in KSC are a lot of fun, both for the listener and the DJs, and are played every day. Lots of work goes into all of them, and they’re not something to be missed.
Augustus Stahl can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org