Catawba College students launch Internet radio station

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — When Bianca Stokes started brainstorming ideas for her senior project, the Catawba College student knew she wanted to combine her love of music and talking.
It didn’t take her long to land on an idea that does just that.
“I decided on radio because I can play cool music and talk,” said Stokes, a Landis native and South Rowan High School graduate.
When Stokes approached Dr. David Fish, chair and associate professor of music at Catawba, with the idea he jumped on board. But he knew a traditional radio station was likely out of the question.
“A terrestrial radio station is very expensive and would only reach at most a 50-mile radius, but with an Internet radio station we can reach the entire world and it’s much more feasible to do. “
When the two started working together to get the project off the ground, it became evident that it wouldn’t be an easy feat.
“Anytime you undertake any sort of project there are always challenges,” Fish said. “In our case, one of them has been working through how to create an Internet radio station. There is a lot involved in it.”
Fish said despite the challenges, Stokes stuck with it and kept the small team of students working with her from jumping ship.
“The biggest challenge was being patient and remaining optimistic as we worked through it,” he said.
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The Internet radio station is the first of its kind at Catawba, but it’s not the pioneering radio station. The campus had WNDC up until 1986.
Stokes, a music major concentrating in popular music, said when she found out the radio station had gone extinct she knew it was time for a revival.
But she hasn’t been doing it alone.
Stokes hosts the weekly broadcast with the help of co-host Arsherres Jenkins, a junior communication arts major minoring in music.
Rashad Brown, a junior double-majoring in communication arts and music, has been helping with the production side of things.
“He’s been my right-hand man because I didn’t know anything about recording,” Stokes said.
Brown said working for the station has been a learning experience.
“I have some experience with music production and recording, but I’ve never had to record people speaking and make it sound good so that’s new,” he said.
And Brown said the job never gets boring.
“I love doing it because I love music,” he said. “Any possible way I can find to allow me to do music is wonderful to me.”
Stokes said she enlisted Brown and Jenkins because she’s hoping they will take over when she graduates this spring.
“I want to pass it down and make sure it continues after I leave,” she said. “Right now we’re using a computer and microphone, my hope is for the school to actually have a radio room with a soundboard in the future.”
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The radio station, called The Feather: Cat-U Radio, has been up and running since February, producing a new weekly show every Thursday that typically gets posted by Friday.
Stokes said each show includes popular music, a top 10 countdown, a roundup of campus and sports-related updates called “News of the Tribe,” a segment highlighting upcoming community events and an artist feature.
It’s the artist feature that Stokes takes the most pride in. The segment features original songs created and recorded by her fellow music majors.
“I let them introduce their song and tell where you can find their music,” she said. “It gives them an outlet for people to hear their music so it’s not just all about me doing a senior project.”
Sophomore Olivia Albertson said she’s hoping the artist feature will help her grow her fan base.
“When Dr. Fish first told me about it, I immediately wanted to know how I could get my music on there,” she said. “It’s really great that I have a chance to get my original music out there for a new audience to hear.”
Albertson’s music, which is primarily country and folk, was played during the second installment of the radio show.
“It was really, really cool, I absolutely loved it,” she said.
Fish said Catawba has one of about a dozen colleges in the country that offers a concentration in popular music, that’s out of about 2,400 four-year schools that have music programs.
“Because of that, we attract some extraordinarily talented musicians to Catawba,” he said. “For me, the greatest potential for the radio station is for us to be able to spotlight our young artists and reach out to prospective students.”
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Stokes is already applying the knowledge she’s learned through internships with a local church and V101.9 in Charlotte to her work at The Feather.
And Fish said the skills she’s garnering while running Catawba’s radio station will serve her well when she begins graduate work at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Charlotte this July.
“One of the big things I stress is know how,” he said. “Knowledge is important, experience is important, but ideally what it results in is know how and that’s what makes a person relevant in the music industry.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.