The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Whale Radio provides students a creative outlet

GVL/ Bethann Long

Grand Valley State University’s student-run radio station, WCKS or Whale Radio, has given students of all majors the opportunity to host their own radio or talk show for decades. 

The Whale was founded as the GVSU radio station in the late 1960s under the call letters WGVU. The radio station signal was originally only accessible to those who could connect to the building’s power grid. In the 1980s, the station became public, garnering off-campus listeners. After a brief period off the air, the student station was revived in the latter half of the 1990s, where it has since been located in Kirkhof Center Room 0055. 

Whale Radio President and Station Manager Ayron Rutan grew interested in radio by taking JBM – 265 Introduction to Radio. He wished to continue being on-air by joining Whale Radio and expressing himself through his own show.

“For me, it’s keeping the art form and what I would describe as the culture of radio alive,” Rutan said. “(It’s not just a) place where people can have a voice and share music, but it’s also something for students to tune in to.” 

Rutan and several other students use the station to be creative and produce their own shows using the station’s resources. Having a community of students with a passion for radio allows for collaboration and motivation.

“This (Whale Radio) is a form for expression. I think that’s extremely important,” said Len O’Kelly, GVSU professor and faculty advisor for Whale Radio. “It’s a more communal way of doing what podcasting has made kind of a solo, by-yourself activity.”

Many students over the years have had various ways of expressing themselves with the station, from playing the music they are interested in, to doing sports broadcasting. Rutan also reflected on hearing about how a prior student created their own show, during which they would narrate “Seinfeld” episodes they were watching in the studio. 

“We, as a station, want to be a center for music on campus,” Rutan said. “(We are trying to) provide this place for people to go to and have a voice and share ideas.”

Faculty help to maintain the studio by updating and replacing broken or outdated equipment. A recent addition to the station is a professional-grade table that houses some of the equipment used in producing a show. It also is large enough to seat multiple people, in the event people are hosting a talk show. 

In addition to on-air shows, Whale Radio is hosting a benefit concert for the DAAC, a local performing arts venue facing closure, on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. GVSU students will be headlining the show. All proceeds will go towards supporting the DAAC. 

“The goal of the benefit is to raise money and bring awareness (to) the DAAC and help them stay afloat,” said Anthony Erlandson Whale Radio’s Promotions Director. “We thought doing a concert would be a great opportunity for students (to) perform in a setting where they can play whatever they want to.”

As a club, Whale Radio hosts weekly meetings on Monday nights at 9 p.m. in Lake Ontario Hall Room 174. No experience is required and training will be given to anyone who expresses interest. All that is asked is that participants like radio and pass a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation quiz. For listeners, the radio station can be streamed through the RadioFX app or the Whale website. 

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