Long-Running KWCW Shows

Eric Anderson, A&E Editor

Despite its lengthy history at Whitman College, the KWCW radio station is, in a way, quite ephemeral.

With the station adding and losing DJs each semester, the content and arrangement of material on the station is always in flux. Some students do the same show each time, some mix it up. Some take hiatuses or decide it’s not for them. They rarely occupy the same time slot twice. And regardless, their shows tend to leave with them.

In spite of this–and the changes in KWCW leadership that occur on a regular basis–there is consistency to be found on the station, both from long-running DJs from outside the college and legacy shows kept running long past the graduations of the students who created them.

Meet Laura Hall. She’s a caregiver in the Walla Walla community who performs with her friends as part of an acoustic band called The Blarney Cats. She’s also the host of the KWCW show “Acousticity,” and has been for the past six years, every Monday night from 8:00-10:00 p.m.

“I plan on being a long-term DJ,” Hall said. “As long as I’m living in this area, of course, I’m gonna try and do it every semester.”

Hall has her show down to a science. Centered on acoustic pieces, specifically those of the Celtic-Irish variety, she has made “Acousticity” into an event for her listeners. Networking through Facebook allows her to spread the word about an upcoming show or a special interviewee. An awareness of her show’s fan community means she can give special shout-outs over the air to listeners. And best of all, she knows she’s in no danger of running out of material.

“I could do a month-long show and never run out of stuff,” Hall said.

Additionally, her 8:00-10:00 p.m. Monday spot on the schedule is no accident–she’s had the spot singled out for “Acousticity” for her entire KWCW run.

“Community DJs, we [often have to] plan … around our showtime, because we have jobs and responsibilities that are not as flexible,” Hall said.

Hall’s not the only community veteran at the station, and certainly not the longest-running. Gregory Schnorr, host of “The Cookie Dance with Chef Schnorganoff,” has been hosting at the station since 1990, and his current show began in 2002.

“Cookie Dance,” a hybridization of cooking lessons and music, has undergone quite an evolution through its years airing on the station.

“It’s gotten much more serious,” Schnorr said. “The topicality of the songs with the recipe gets deeper; not wanting to hear the same songs again … [and] recording every song … for myself. I have to prepare prior to coming into the station. So when I first had a radio show as a student, I was all improvisational, search the stacks, pull albums–now there’s a game plan, there’s editing.”

Additionally, Schnorr has experienced the rather stunning changes in the station’s technology firsthand over the years.

“The ability to download music is very different from the original vinyl stacks I would look at in 1990,” Schnorr said. “The ability to have access to so much more world, obscure, different genres or different styles of music that I never would have gotten into if it wasn’t for the ability to keyword search.”

But community DJs aren’t the only long-runners on KWCW. One notable student show, started in 2010 by former students Sara Rasmussen and Mehera Nori, has survived several years past their departure; that show is “The Witching Hour,” a “Harry Potter” fan show that is currently hosted by seniors Erin Walters and Hannah Poukish.

Walters has hosted the show for a number of years with several different co-hosts, including alumnus Anu Lingappa ‘15 and junior Megan Gleason. Poukish, at Walters’ request, joined for the spring 2017 semester to fill in for Gleason, who is studying abroad. Though Gleason is expected to return to the show in the fall, the two seniors are now tasked with finding her a co-host.

“We still need to recruit a new witch,” Walters said. “That’s probably gonna be something [Gleason] has to deal with, and I don’t really envy that, because it’s kind of like, it’s always been pretty spur-of-the-moment when people are just like, ‘You like Harry Potter? I love Harry Potter! Come on our show!’ So I don’t know who the next generation is gonna be.”

In the past, recruitment for “The Witching Hour” has occurred through members of the FACE (Feminists Advocating for Change and Empowerment) club, as the hosts entreat fellow club members to co-host with them and succeed them.

This continuity comes in the face of consistent change at the station, and has allowed some of the longer-running hosts to gain some perspective on the directions the station has been taking.

“I really see that KWCW is getting better all the time by bringing in live acts, coordinating with musical festivals that reach out to Walla Walla, having community members and other teachers, educators, staff from the campus having shows,” Schnorr said. “I think all of that fills in the ability to have a community station here in Walla Walla.”

KWCW has continued to change in dramatic fashion aesthetically and technologically. But with a semblance of continuity to be found in these long-runners, the station has an element of legacy to it, some consistency in a sea of newness.