The piece was originally published Fall of 2019.
Tucked away in the basement of Emmanuel College’s St. Joseph’s residence hall lies a former hub–the radio room. At one time, EC radio attracted listeners from around the world. It united a campus, brought forth new music, hosted various events, including a battle of the bands. Then, it all came crashing down.
“I was trying to reach out to first years, sophomores, and even juniors to see if people really wanted to be apart of this club,” As former and final president Lindsay Sucile, 21, of Allston, Mass., put it “We had a general members meeting after winter break that we publicized and announced and pushed for and then three people showed up. That’s kind of when I looked at everyone and said no one’s really interested in it.”
EC Radio wasn’t always scrambling for members. The station was first started in spring 2005, according to Emmanuel’s records. Dan Darcy, associate dean of students and director of student activities, remembered them having 58 hours of on-air time during their peak. They were running radio seven days a week with multiple shows a day. They had faculty guest speakers, different shows for different genres, and Sucile even remembered one of the DJs matching his playlist to the weather that day.
The radio station brought light to many different kinds of music and seemingly connected many students together.
“It’s important the students had that type of outlet. It was giving them an opportunity to be on the air. A number of the students were in communications courses so it was an unofficial practicum where they were getting that experience” said Darcy “It also gave students a voice.”
Shows consisted of one hour blocks in the radio room; which was fit with turntables, a sound board, and mics.
“I joined with my friend. We had our own radio show which entailed going to the radio room in the basement of St. Joe’s. There was a system that had a microphone, turntables, a computer and all that. You would tune in on an app called tune-in so it wasn’t actually the radio, it was an app.” said Sucile
EC Radio was founded by a transfer student who had previously worked on a college station. He then looked to start one here, which is where EC radio began.
“He saw we didn’t have one, so he came to student activities about the possibility of starting one. We were able to get it going right off the bat. It took a few semesters to peak, but it was up and running at the end of that semester.” said Darcy
The room itself came about later when they got too big to share with other clubs. It’s a small room in the St. Joseph’s basement. It still has posters and inside jokes plastered to the wall, almost like it’s frozen in time.
“It really took off and expanded and that’s when they got the room in St. Joseph’s hall. It just got so big. Prior to that, they shared a room called the media room.” said Darcy
As reported by a 2012 Emmanuel article, EC radio had 76 DJs and ran for 24 hours a day. The article also said that their listeners went from the West Coast to the Middle East and even Australia. They broadcasted live from both the 2012 Democratic and Republican national conventions, and they were even ranked number three on Boston.com’s “best college radio” list.
The club then went on an extended hiatus in 2015 and returned in 2017. During the Spring semester of 2019, Sucile decided to retire the constitution and shut down EC radio for good. After a successful 10 plus years, awards, and worldwide listeners, EC radio fell. The real question is, how did it get there?
If you ask Sucile, the app they streamed off of was the nail in the coffin.
“Other successful radio stations were on the radio, not an app. I think that dettered a lot of people because we advertised ourselves as a radio club but we weren’t actually on the radio. We were on a radio app which is so much different than being able to tune into some sort of fm radio station. I feel maybe that is the reason people didn’t want to join.”
As The Buggles song said, video killed the radio star. But maybe streaming services were the culprit all along.
“Access to media is in your hand now. You can carry it with you. A lot of these mediums, whether it be music, photos, or news, it’s all at the disposal of your hand now. I think there’s an art to it. Good DJs can attract you,” said Darcy “I hate that we’re losing it. I hate the fact we lost MTV. You watched bands perform and different types of videos. And then that went away. It seems that slowly, but surely, the listening audience is going away because now you can make your own playlist. ”
In a 2016 study released by the Music Business Association, younger millennials said that only 12% of their music comes from radio. However, 54% of their music came from streaming services such as Apple and Spotify. With radio becoming increasingly less popular, it is possible that’s one of the factors leading to the EC radio downfall.
EC radio would be approaching its 15th year on air. Unfortunately, the room sits quietly in the basement while gathering spider webs. At one point, the room was responsible for being the soundtrack to people’s lives all over the world. Now, it remains a temporary storage closet.
“Unfortunately, radio is a dying medium. Even though we have the technology to listen to whatever we want, it’s still important to listen to other people talk about their experiences.” said Sucile “It’s live and you get to hear their personalities. It’s important we keep it alive. I don’t want my kids in ten years to ask me what radio was.”
Some students on campus share a similar feeling and have even looked into reviving radio club.
“I love the whole aspect of sitting down, playing your jams, and expressing your feelings through a medium. I think it’s important we have a radio station on campus for this reason.” said Madison Suitor, 19 of Gunbarrel, Colo.
Sophomore Ashleigh Fawcett, 19 of Pittsfield, Mass., expressed similar feelings.
“I think it’s important we have EC radio so we can talk about the things happening on campus and prompt discussion” said Fawcett
So, maybe someday, EC radio will be back and better than ever. But, for now it remains a solid piece of Emmanuel history.
Meg MacDonald ’22 is the Assistant Managing Editor for The Hub. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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