“You're listening to KCSS, the Valley's true alternative" bellows a disc jockey over the airwaves of 91.9 FM, CSU Stanislaus's very own college radio station. Run by and for students and members of the community, the radio station remains a relatively unfamiliar facet of the campus community to many students who attend Stan State.
As students stroll around the quad at the center of campus, they are in view of the headquarters of this student run radio station, but many of these students are unaware about or indifferent towards the station and its activities.
Monica Yates (junior, Communication Studies) sounded surprised when asked if she knew about the station.
“I honestly didn’t even know we had a radio station,” she said.
Bobby Garcia (senior, Psychology) knew about the station. He knew about the station from those previously involved in it, he explained, but was surprised that there is almost no self-promotion from the station itself.
Located within the midst of the Communications Department at Demergasso-Bava Hall, the station is almost hidden away.
The “On the Air” sign is located outside of the station’s sound booth. A slight crackle of static, the ever present hum of a stereo, and a song will greet those who walk through the doors of the college radio station in the flesh.
Once inside and down the bland and unassuming hallway that leads towards the center of the station, you no longer feel as if the space is lifeless.
After walking past numerous band posters, which plaster the walls in an unorganized fashion and after glancing at the various pieces of past and present station merchandise (some of which is for sale, some of which is framed and hung on the walls as art), the centerpiece of the operation presents itself: the sound booth.
Alive with sound and light, the booth is small, however the large picture windows give whoever gazes in a sense of what goes on inside.
A phone, for those who would like to call in to suggest a song is a feature on the desk which takes center stage in the booth. Large microphones for DJ's to announce programming and conduct interviews and talk shows are also striking features of the quaint room.
One is taken aback by the sheer number of vinyl records that accompany the two large turntables atop the desk. Neatly organized and stacked along a wall are hundreds of the 12 inch black disks.
Every genre imaginable from every decade is present, and while the station plays much of its music from the large computer setup that is also included within the room, one can imagine what the station was like during some late night of yesteryear when vinyl was still king.
After all, when the station was founded in 1975, there was no such thing as cassettes, CD's for MP3 files.
The radio station is a communal area and creates a sense of community for those who work within its walls, as well as for those who stop by to observe.
A large common area, complete with comfortable chairs to lounge in, sits at the end of a hallway leading away from the sound booth, and offices of students line the aforementioned corridor.
These office doors give insight into who's spaces these are and whiteboards filled with comedic scribblings along with stickers and pinned pieces of paper and mementos shed light on those who run the station.
Dr. Greg Jacquay holds a hybrid position on campus, being a part time lecturer as well as the General Manager of KCSS.
Jacquay has held that position since 1994, while his involvement at the station first began in 1993 as a student broadcaster. He was enrolled at Stan State during the time period in which he began broadcasting, and also when he first became the station manager.
Jacquay sits relaxed in an office chair in one of the student offices, slightly tinted glasses with clear frames, a casual t-shirt, and a messy ponytail of hair adds to the personality of the man who you would expect to be extremely passionate about one particular thing: music.
When asked about how much input students have in the day to day operations of KCSS, Jacquay stressed the importance of student involvement, and stated that students keep the station running.
“Everything is student driven,” he said.
When asked whether the station would survive without the involvement of students, a flat out “no” was uttered by Jacquay.
He added that although the station could technically run without students, he said, “What would the point be?”
Jacquay is the lead instructor for the Radio Lab course Comm 3112, which is the main way in which students can get involved at the station.
The course covers the speaking and delivery aspect of radio broadcast, the technical aspects of sound engineering and production, as well as the ways in which programming and content is created, organized, and eventually implemented.
Jacquay also mentioned that the course is quite freeform, with students deciding which aspects they would like to pursue.
Jacquay’s last remarks were in respect to the survival of radio.
“Radio will adapt," he said. "Radio is something real that serves the community.”
Jaquay is quite passionate in his love for the medium, and commented that, for as long as radio has been around, it has adapted to whatever situation it has been put in and it will continue to do so.
Christian Stallworth (senior, Creative Media), the lead audio technician and Production Manager for KCSS, talked about his experience regarding his current position and gave insight into the true level of student involvement within the station.
Stallworth sat relaxed in an office chair located in the podcast room of the station, earbuds and mask dangling from his face, as his black dreadlocks fell upon his forehead while he spoke. Legs crossing, thumb twiddling, and foot tapping accompanied his story as he explained, in depth, his life at the station.
Stallworth has been involved at the station since late 2017. Stallworth’s duties encompass editing PSAs and campus announcements, which will be broadcast on the air, editing student podcasts which may also be aired, as well as helping campus events with their audio equipment needs.
Stallworth prepared for the job by using the skills from previous employment and applied that knowledge to help with this new path. Stallworth has been certified as an audio engineer by Stanislaus State, and before working for the station, he worked as an audio engineer at Snider Recital Hall, also located on campus.
Stallworth enjoys the work and said that while the pandemic put a dent in live events, he still has a passion for the position. Stallworth will be leaving the station when he graduates, but may apply for a faculty position in the media department or for a position at the station.
On the topic of student involvement, Stallworth noted that there is less involvement now than there was at one point, but this involvement fluctuates from semester to semester. However, students still come in on weekdays to broadcast live. Students make up the majority of broadcasts.
Students can get involved in the station by taking the Radio Lab course. Students not interested in taking the course, but still interested in getting involved in the station can talk to either Stallworth or Jacquay.
Stallworth imparted his thoughts on students interested in the radio lab course.
“Students are taught through the course," he said. "Personality and knowledge of music is all you need to join.”
More information regarding the station, and how to potentially get involved can be found at the KCSS website.
Next time you’re in the car, tune into Stan State’s radio station. See what comes over the airwaves and you might just like what you hear.
“This is KCSS signing off for the night.”
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