For Kai Haskins ’18 and Sam Sternweiler ’17, radio still holds an allure, a magic.
In an age when any kind of music you long to hear can be found on the Internet and sites like Pandora use algorithms to recommend songs, radio offers a personal and intimate experience, they believe. To turn on a station, to hear that voice come out of the speakers, is to invite someone into your life, say Haskins, the president of Babson College Radio, and Sternweiler, the station’s vice president for campus events. “The communal aspect of music still matters,” Haskins says. “Sharing your music with someone is a personal thing. It’s more fulfilling than when an algorithm recommends music.”
Babson College Radio has been heard online since 1998, and today it plays what Haskins describes as an “eclectic smorgasbord” of music. For years, the station made its home in Park Manor Central, but construction necessitated a relocation to Mandell Family Hall. Early in the semester, the station was still recovering from the move. Wires, microphone stands, a disco ball, and lots of records, given vinyl’s resurgence in recent years, were scattered about the studio. But the turntables already were set up and ready to go, and Haskins and Sternweiler were excited about the year ahead. Plans include a live 24-hour broadcast for charity, a show on entrepreneurship, and bringing more bands to campus.
About 30 students signed up to be disc jockeys, which is easily double the usual number. To get to know the new DJs, Haskins and Sternweiler asked them to turn in an eight-song playlist and to explain why they picked their songs and in what order the songs should run. “Order matters,” Haskins says.
The station is on air 24/7. Haskins and Sternweiler hope to have the DJs playing music 24 to 30 hours a week (when no one mans the studio, the station broadcasts a long, continuous playlist). To increase the station’s visibility, Sternweiler also DJs at one or two campus events every week. He loves seeing how the music he plays affects people, how it makes them sing and dance. “That’s a satisfying feeling,” he says.
To hear Babson College Radio, go to Trim Dining Hall, where the station is streamed throughout the day, or visit babsonradio.com. In a typical month, the site has about 3,000 listeners, though Sternweiler doesn’t care about the size of the audience. He takes to the microphone to share some of himself and his music. “The feeling that someone might be listening makes it all worthwhile,” he says.—John Crawford