Blast from the radio past
Deep in the basement of the Dahl Centennial Union there is a place where few have ventured. At first glance, one might believe they have found Luther’s Room of Requirement. Upon further exploration, however, it is discovered that the columns of CDs from floor to ceiling, stacks of indie band posters and numerous lounging men and women comprise the KWLC Luther College Radio station.
Among these beautiful sights are several boxes of old files, correspondences, articles and miscellaneous bits of information that KWLC Loud Rock Director Noah Lange (‘14) has been archiving since the summer.
“We have had a lot of files building up since the ’60s,” Lange said. “It has never been organized, and instead has just been sitting in boxes in a back room, so when I worked for the station this summer I started going through the archives and getting it in a state so that it can be put into long-term storage.”
Lange has been scanning a multitude of paperwork and is working toward a digital, if not online, archive of the files. Among the boxes of documents resides the amusing history of KWLC.
“There has been some interesting drama that has become lost to the ages,” Lange said. “There were a lot of huge personality conflicts documented in letters.”
Some intriguing moments in KWLC’s past include an RA implicated in the theft of recording equipment and the early controversies of talk radio of the 1970’s. These moments add spice to Lange’s work, but he finds the relationship between KWLC and the Decorah community to be the most important information he is uncovering.
“All of the work I am doing points back to the fact that KWLC has historically been a part of the Decorah community and not just a wing of the college,” Lange said. “KWLC has managed to bridge the gap between the commonly separated college and town.”
The station tries to serve the community in many ways: by broadcasting Luther College sports, church services and, of course, the cutting edge of rock and roll.
For 25 years, General Manager of KWLC Jennifer Cantine has been trying to think of ways to better serve the very diverse groups that make up the station’s audience while always maintaining the values of Luther College. Lange’s archiving work is an important part of this.
“KWLC is, in a sense, the voice of Luther College,” Cantine said. “It is important to give some kind of ongoing definition of the institution. The history of any worthwhile organization, group, or individual is important because it talks about some really fundamental things. It gives a clear view into the window of what the organization really is.”
Despite many changes in location and leadership over the years, KWLC radio has continued to follow ethical and education guidelines and standards while bringing new and cutting-edge music to the airwaves. The plans for this year are no different, especially under the leadership of new Station Manager Gunnar Halseth (‘13).
“I know we are going to have a really great year, like we pretty much always do,” Halseth said. “We have a lot of returning DJs, and a ton of super enthusiastic new people.”
Halseth is glad that students are willing to share their favorite music.
“It is so wonderful to see that people are coming to Luther and wanting to play new music for not only our campus, but for the web stream which is heard around the world,” Halseth said.