Located in the underground tunnels of the Darrin Communications Center is the the hub of WRPI, Rensselaer’s own exclusive radio station. It includes everything from a 20,000-plus collection of vintage vinyl records, to broadcasting booths and soundboards, to stickers stuck haphazardly on the wall—the “hippest” subterranean hangout for the station’s staff of about 20 students.
At its Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond event, students lounge across the waiting room, enjoying the ambiance of WRPI’s main room. Stickers emblazoned on most available surfaces hint at the varied content one could hear on WRPI’s broadcasts, which ranges from obscure special interest music, to live roleplay performances, as well as several talk show programs and even a rebroadcasting of NPR’s Democracy Now. According to WRPI’s PR Director Tenzin Tashi ‘19, it can only be described as “eclectic.” The station’s varied library is reportedly overflowing from one store room to another with over 20,000 CDs, 50,000 LPs and 20,000 vinyls. As the President Station Johnny Greeman ‘17 proudly explained, it is also frequently supported by live performances from student and local bands.
The community contributions do not end with live performances, however. Greeman continues explaining how students regularly DJ their own shows, whether they be talk shows, music critiques, or something of their own making. It is entirely student-run, and its music selection encompasses a plethora of genres, including those that are retro, modern, or haven’t even been named yet. The station doesn’t only contribute to the RPI community; WRPI allows the residents of New York, Vermont, and even Massachusetts to tune in with its approximately 75-mile broadcasting radius, thanks to its 10,000 watts of power. Its space, which was built “DIY-style” by WRPI students of the past, is almost equally divided between rooms containing the broadcasting tech, studio equipment, and vast stores of music.
Aside from offering good listening, WRPI also benefits students by sharing a “strong, informal link” with Ground Zero, the concert venue located in the basement of Nugent Hall, to the advantage of local and student bands. It was also mentioned that some of their CDs that do not see enough use may be given out for free at the Rensselaer Union Activities Fair.
All of the package that is WRPI—its atmosphere, philosophy, and staff—left a strong impression with the freshmen NRB participants.
“I think it’s a really close group,” states Mitchell Kruger ‘20. “I’m really impressed that it’s all student-run, and I’m really excited to get to join.” The arrival of new students had a similar effect on the WRPI staff, who are excited to see the student community, the heartbeat of the campus, return home.