KWCW solves live stream puzzle, charts new directions

Ellen Ivens-Duran

KWCW, Whitman and Walla Walla’s local community radio station, put its digital live stream back up on Friday, Oct. 9, after months of effort. Due to unreliability and technological issues, the stream had been taken down, but K-Dub’s staff seem to have hit upon a fix.

Carolyn Erving, a senior at Whitman and K-Dub’s General Manager, had been looking for a solution to the problem of the defunct stream since June.

“[We’ve done] a lot of research on how can we make this better and how can we present this in an aesthetically pleasing way that’s also financially viable, meets legal requirements and is easy for people to use. And is feasible for our staff to actually put in place. And all of those different components are a lot to deal with,” said Erving.

In order to solve the problems with the stream, which included intermittent failure to broadcast, incompatibility with the website and an inability to display the track and artist names, Erving has had to rely on her newly cohesive staff. Erving overhauled KWCW’s staff structure, adding and reviving positions such as Chief Operator and Community Outreach Coordinator to craft a staff of 15. Henry Carges, the Head Music Director, has been another key player in resolving these issues.

“We ran into a bunch of technical issues because we don’t have the funding of a big school, so a lot of those big schools have someone they can hire to do all their coding for them and then boom they have their new stream,” said Carges. “It’s kind of something we’ve had to learn how to do ourselves, which has been a lot of work.”

Until Friday, KWCW’s webpage only allowed listeners to see the name and title of the track that is currently playing on their terrestrial, that is physical, broadcast. People trying to tune in from outside the city limits of Walla Walla were out of luck. KWCW’s auto DJ, which broadcasts pre-loaded music when live shows aren’t on-air, was the only input feeding into the digital broadcast. Now, instead of the auto-DJ playing continuously, the stream will be broadcasting live shows as well.

“What you’re seeing on the website is everything that needs to be there to be up to code as a [digital] stream, college radio stream,” said Erving.

That remains true, as DJs are obligated to record the name and artist on each track they play in real time on a program called Spinitron. That information will then be  transferred from Spinitron to the pop-up live stream. This solution allowed K-Dub to use a simple program already in use to display track and artist names, which they were previously unable to do.

“One of the things that’s different about the way K-Dub is run that’s different from other college radio stations is that it’s accessible to DJs and we don’t want to have to make it so that you have to have a really large knowledge of how computers work to be a radio DJ,” said Carges.

KWCW’s DJs existed in a world apart from the frantic work of the staff. They seemed relatively unaffected by the problem.

“I’m actually very surprised to see how many people are listening to our show on the radio itself, which I feel is not the easiest venue,” said senior DJ Eric Underwood (whose show with Jack Swain, BERLAMBURGLERBER, takes place from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on Tuesdays) “I was very pleased to find out that people were still listening, and to get calls into the show.”

Senior Rose Gottlieb (of The Rose and Grace Show, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays) who, like Underwood, is continuing a show from this summer and took a similar tone.

“I never had [the live stream] so I can’t miss it,” said Gottlieb, “but it would be nice to be able to tell my parents and [other] people…it would be nice to have people listen to it from afar.”

Now, Gottlieb will have that option. Riding on their successful fix of a persistent problem, Erving and Carges are traveling to New York for the College Music Journal’s annual music marathon and conference, held this year from Oct. 13 to 17. Erving will be speaking on a panel regarding radio management, but that isn’t the only reason for the trip.

“We’ve been nominated for an award, as station with the biggest improvement, which is really nice and really flattering just because of all the hard work that has been put in and now we’re being recognized at a national level,” said Erving, “As far as I know it’s the first time K-Dub has been nominated for an award at this conference. And CMJ is basically the conference for college radio, it’s the conference for the industry.”

In the meantime, feel free to listen live.