After a tumultous year, a makeover for WYBC-AM

WYBC-AM, Yale’s student run radio station, wants to be recognized for more than just their ubiquitous T-shirt logo.

In the past, WYBC-AM has lacked a clear mission, said Caroline Nathan ’04, the station’s president and general manager. The station has reached out to the greater Yale community by establishing a new comprehensive Web site to be launched in the next week and by subscribing to the College Music Journal, which provides the station with greater access to popular music.

“There has been a lot of discussion in past year over what the exact mission of the AM station is,” Nathan said. “The AM station is there to provide Yale students to listen to and broadcast any kind of music or talk radio that people might be interested in hearing.”

Last spring, WYBC cancelled a Blonde Redhead concert because of a lack of funds prompting Jane Yakowitz’s public resignation as events director in an opinion article in The Yale Herald. The Herald also published several opinion pieces criticizing WYBC-AM’s music selection and the lack of consistency in its radio broadcasts.

“The problem with WYBC in the past, the leadership has seen it more as an alternative indie-rock type station,” said Zachary Jones ’05, the station’s marketing and promotions director. “A big stigma that all college radio stations have to grapple with is that college radio has to equal college rock. We are a diverse, eclectic melting pot of all different types of music. [We play] whatever our DJs want to play.”

As part of the makeover, WYBC has made significant technical upgrades, Nathan said. In order to create the Web site, WYBC hired a professional designer from New York. In the spring of 2001, the station studios moved into 142 Temple St., where Nathan said they are working with cutting-edge technology and equipment.

Nathan is a Yale Daily News columnist.

New technology has allowed WYBC’s music directors to stay focused on keeping the station’s music current and diverse and has offered greater opportunity for aspiring DJs, said Nathan.

“A lot of people at Yale don’t realize that WYBC is there as a resource,” Nathan said. “Our training director has really tried to streamline the training process to involve more people into WYBC community. We are first and foremost a training station.”

The music directors have tried to depart from WYBC’s past by forging a better relationship with record companies. The relationship between WYBC and record labels is cyclical — the companies send the station albums and the station tells the companies which of those albums prove most popular.

“We’re promoting by what our DJs like to play,” said Martin Wolff ’05, the station’s co-music director. “This was not happening for a number of years before this year.”

The station has also used the new technology to stay true to their mission even when there is not a live DJ, said Biancha Bracho-Perez ’06, the station’s other music director.

“We’re in the process of updating the Smartcaster, the music that is played when there’s not a live DJ,” Bracho-Perez said. “We’re trying to put in a bunch of new music from the rotation as well as some local New Haven and New England bands.”

WYBC’s image makeover has also included co-operation with other on-campus groups. The radio station has worked with the Yale College Council on this year’s Spring Fling, and the winner of the station’s annual Battle of the Bands will be the first act at this year’s concert. Over 30 bands applied to be one of the seven performers at the Battle of the Bands — almost triple the usual number. This renewed enthusiasm demonstrates the increased awareness and participation in WYBC activities, Nathan said.

The station’s overall goal has been to produce a radio station that is geared towards the greater Yale community, Jones said.

” You can no more classify WYBC any more than you can classify the average Yale student,” Jones said. “WYBC has created a product and carved out a niche in the Yale community that it’s going to be really hard for people to ignore.”

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