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During finals week, students at WMCR, the College’s student-run radio station, are supposed to be focused on their exams and the production of new shows is prohibited. But the producers of the DMV HotClock (a show which combines music, celebrity gossip and other lighthearted topics) pleaded with Tiffany Copeland, professor of media arts and director of the station; they still wanted to create one last episode before the break. She first instructed the students to study—and then relented.
“I am really impressed by how eager the students are,” Copeland says. “They really want to work, they volunteer for work, and they want everything they touch to be great.”
That enthusiasm goes both ways.
Kinsey Gibb, who is studying media production and is the station’s social media director, says Professor Copeland is an inspiration. “She’s a really big mentor for me. She puts so much effort into teaching and has so much passion for this department and what she’s doing.”
Copeland’s passion for the medium is evident. In the two years since Copeland joined the College, the station experienced a dramatic—and digital—transformation.
A new streaming system allows anyone with an internet connection to tune in; special media players are not required. The station is also on TuneIn and iTunes. New top-of-the line scheduling and automation systems afford students the same software as commercial radio stations.
And for the first time, there are lessons on podcasts. Students now can host and produce podcasts to industry standards.
“We are creating a top-notch radio program for our region, integrating new forms of media with traditional ones,” Copeland says.
In this dynamic age of multimedia, Copeland insists students create a website to market themselves and demonstrate to employers that they are “social media ready.” They learn how to upload audio files and how to use and to contribute to popular audio hosting sites like FreeSound and SoundCloud.
And students are learning other skills, as well. Alex Rivas, a sophomore who is one of the hosts of DMV HotClock, says he is more conversational, a skill he knows will help inside or outside the studio. And he is better at staying on schedule. “Time management is everything. Radio is a time-driven business,” he says.
To help students learn about the radio business, Professor Copeland helps place top students in internships and arranges studio tours with local stations. That way, she says, “they can see people doing what they want to do.”
Another new edition to the station is the Wall of Fame, recognizing accomplished alumni and serving as an inspiration to radio stars of the future. Erick Villegas ’07, producer of The Kane Show, heard locally on 99.5 FM and syndicated across the country, was the first honoree. He says his experience with the station was nothing short of great.
WMCR plays a wide variety of music from Top 40 to rap to Caribbean. You’ll also hear student voices and their perspectives on current events.
You can tune in here.
Villegas says he always to work in entertainment, but when he found WMCR, “things just clicked.” In addition to his classes, he co-hosted a morning show on WMCR, interned at 99.5 FM, and worked in a toy store. He says students today will also need to work hard, probably in a smaller market, and “pay their dues.”
Copeland’s professional experience is another example of how hard work pays dividends. She started at her college radio station at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale, moving on to work as a reporter, announcer, and producer for stations around the country.
“I have always loved radio because you have the power to encourage people, uplift their lives, to help bring them a new understanding of the world.”