Student-run radio station at one midstate college stays on the air during COVID-19 pandemic

50 students at Susquehanna University are broadcasting from home to keep the community informed and entertained

  • Tim Lambert


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(Selinsgrove) — College students across the state are no longer on campus and many are completing their studies online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, about 50 students are working to keep their community informed and entertained with a mix of new and classic rock through WQSU, the school’s radio station.

They are live, via remote broadcasts.

WITF’s Tim Lambert spent some time talking with WQSU Program Director Kaila Snyder of Northumberland, Northumberland County, and Sports Director Mike McGimpsey of Old Bridge, New Jersey.

Both are members of the Class of 2020 and both are still on-air from their respective homes.

Listen to the interview here:

Here is an edited version of the conversation:

Tim: Joining me now are Kaila Snyder of Northumberland, Northumberland County, and Mike McGimpsey of Old Bridge New Jersey. Both are members of the class of 2020.

So how are each of you doing right now?

Mike: It’s been all right. You know, days kind of blend into each other during all this, but you know, we’re making do with what we got. And it’s been a little bit of a learning curve, but we’re getting through it one day at a time.

Tim: When the decision was made to keep the station on the air, what was it like for both of you to kind of reach that decision that you want to still help out?

Kaila: Well, you figure, it’s our responsibility as a broadcaster to disseminate info to the public. We have to be there for them at all times. So, if there was any option at all to keep the station on-air, we would have, you know, jumped right to it. However, we were super thankful that we have software that we do — Zetta — which we’re able to voice track from home.  A lot of college radio stations aren’t as fortunate to have. So, a lot of college radio stations have unfortunately gone off air at this time. WQSU, all of us have the responsibility to ourselves, as well as our listeners, to keep things going as much as possible just to add some sort of like, you know, normal day to everybody.

WQSU Program Director Kaila Snyder broadcasting from home.

Kaila Snyder broadcasting from home. The radio station in Selinsgrove continues to broadcast through the work of Snyder and 49 other student volunteers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — even though the campus has been closed.

Mike: We totally had a job to do. We have a responsibility to, especially our community, and our listeners to one, disseminate the information, but also, let them know that we’re still here and put a smile on their face. Especially during times like this, you turn on the evening news and it can be kind of scary sometimes hearing what’s going on, or hearing the bad news that is coming from certain areas. Especially my area like New Jersey, New York. I kind of felt like people need to hear from us.

Tim: Mike, just building off that a little bit. As a New Jersey guy, how have you been handling living in another state — one that has been hit hard by COVID-19, but you’re still staying connected to Selinsgrove through your work with the station?

Mike: Well, you got to keep your ear to the ground for sure. A lot of the time, working the Google machine, trying to find out like what’s going on what’s being said (by) the governor of Pennsylvania. Living in New Jersey, obviously, we are — New Jersey, New York — we’re kind of like the epicenter of the pandemic right now. It is different, it is very different, especially with the social distancing rules. It’s been kind of eye-opening a little bit to see all this go on, just happening in real time with with me being home and still trying to do schoolwork and, you know, do my broadcasts.

Tim: Kaila Snyder, as someone who lives in the region, what’s it been like taking on that responsibility to keep your community informed during this pandemic?

Kaila: I’ve been a local girl my whole life. I’ve grown up in Sunbury, and then Northumberland. Obviously, I’ve gone to Susquehanna for my four years. So, I know this community very well. I love this community. It’s a great community to be a part of. So for me, it was never really a question to not, you know, want to continue to broadcast information, as to what was going on. We’re a pretty rural community, so we don’t — knock on wood — at this moment have as many direct problems as something like the New Jersey, New York area. Thank goodness. But, you know, our community is still very scared, as anyone across the nation would be right now. People are wearing masks outside, taking major precautions in terms of like gloves and taking showers as soon as you get home and everything else. It’s just a matter of trying to keep everyone informed and trying to keep, you know, some sort of normalcy for everyone’s every day. So that way, we can be cautious, but still try to continue life as much as we can. Just in a normal way. Because what else can you do right now, other than be cautious and just try to live life as much as you can?

Mike McGimpsey is the sports director at WQSU-FM at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove. He is one of 50 student volunteers who are helping the station stay on air, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy of Susquehanna University

Mike McGimpsey is the sports director at WQSU-FM at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove. He is one of 50 student volunteers who are helping the station stay on air during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim: Do you feel like being on-air now takes on a bit more responsibility? Do you kind of feel that this is important, and I have to make sure that the information I’m sharing is going to help this community understand what’s happening.

Kaila: I love what I do. I love broadcasting. I love radio. I love WQSU, and I love the opportunities that it gives me every single day to get on the radio and talk to people. That’s what people want to hear. They want to hear a conversation. They want to have that connection. They want to know that they aren’t alone, especially right now with these, you know, crazy circumstances. So, do I feel like it’s more important now than ever to be on radio? Definitely.

Mike: You know, people depend on us. Like from like Facebook and social media, people are like, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’ Getting that feedback just means the world to us. It makes me wake up in the morning and get excited again, to hit another broadcast and, you know, start recording tracks again. It really just means the world to me. Knowing that we have a job to do is just paramount.



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