Walk down the firm, concrete steps that lead to the Campus Quad and you’ll find yourself in a crossroads of sorts. To your right will be the Campus Bookstore. Next to that is a conference room, which is connected to the Office of Equity and Inclusion. To your left is Club 88, the campus’ primary indoor venue for live entertainment. Right beside that, if you were to walk towards the mailroom, (which is in the top left corner of the Quad), you’ll see a large window. Glancing inside reveals a pair of couches, a collection of posters, and a large desk stacked with various speakers, turntables, and a host of other audio equipment. This is KPOET, Whittier College’s radio station — the dudes that play the music you hear when you’re exploring the Quad or eating at the Campus Inn.
Having broadcasted for more than 30 years (with various hiatuses sprinkled throughout that time), KPOET has been a mainstay of Whittier’s campus for a long time and is home to a host of creative and uniquely talented Whitier College students. The organization has historically been divided into four different departments: the broadcasting team is the face of KPOET; they’re the ones who control the music and whose voice you hear whenever they perform their check-ins. The album reviewers write reviews of the newest popular albums, which are all posted on the KPOET website. The tech team (full disclosure —that’s me!) deals with managing the station’s equipment and maintaining the aforementioned KPOET website, while also providing technical support for the rest of the departments. The social media team is in charge of KPOET’s marketing, which is done through a combination of social media posts, hosting giveaways, and creating various flyers and other physical promotional material that is sent out across campus. In addition to each department’s individual responsibilities, the whole team also works together to host various events on campus, including Open Mic Nights, in which students perform music, comedy routines, read poetry, and generally just display their creative talent, and International Radio Day, a one-night-only festival on Oct. 1 that encourages the entire campus to gather together, listen to good music, and enjoy the activities that the station puts together.
A typical year at KPOET appears something like this: the tech management team, as well as the general management team, begin preparing for the year over the summer. They make sure that all of the equipment is up-to-date and working, and that all memberships and software have been bought, paid for, and run well with the hardware that they’re connected to. This usually takes a few weeks of preparation, during which the other managers are hard at work getting applications ready, preparing interview questions, outlining a rough schedule of events, and aiding everyone else at the station to make sure that KPOET works as a single, cohesive team. The social media team will be hard at work too, planning out a content strategy for social media posts and Instagram giveaways and preparing new posters to place around campus and on social media. The broadcasters begin their work right when students begin moving into dorms by playing music for the campus and keeping everyone up to date on the latest events and important information bites occurring around campus. The album reviewers start soon after that by posting their reviews to the KPOET website, (which also needs to be checked on!), and planning out what releases they’ll be covering throughout the rest of the semester.
Now, with all of that being said, the College’s return to campus and the restrictions and safety measures imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way that KPOET is doing things, at least for the foreseeable future. First and foremost, all staff members will, of course, be wearing masks whenever they’re inside the station, and will be wiping down all relevant surfaces and pieces of equipment that they encounter on their shift. The station will also be limiting the amount of people entering, working, and spending time in the station as much as possible. The station plans to follow these rules and any other guidelines advised by the CDC and the Dean of Students until recommended to do otherwise.
Not everything is changing, though. KPOET recently had a table at the Resources Fair, where students got to interact with staff members and learn more about what the station does and what working there is like. The station is also currently hiring for all of its departments, the applications for which can be seen on Handshake. KPOET will continue to broadcast music to the campus and on their livestream, hosting Instagram giveaways, and even hopes to continue hosting campus events as long as the aforementioned guidelines do not advise against doing so. The staff has yet to decide what exact precautions will be taken for each particular event, but it’s safe to assume that masks, hand sanitizer, and a fair amount of social distancing will be mainstays of events for at least the next semester.
Featured Image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus