The disk jockeys behind WIDR, Western Michigan University’s student-run radio station are preparing for WIDR Week, their annual fundraising event.
From Monday, March 17 to Saturday, March 22 the 89.1 FM radio station will host events around Kalamazoo, inviting the public to support WIDR.
“WIDR Week is the week where we ask for donations from our listeners in order to keep the station running, and in order for us to continue putting out noncommercial music. We’re putting on awesome events and bettering the community musically,” said Promotions Director Zach Smith, who has been a part of the Kalamazoo music scene for five or six years.
Smith is a senior at WMU, majoring in anthropology and announces under the name “Zackley Kid.”
“Usually we get enough money to run for the whole year,” Smith said. This is Smith’s first year with WIDR and as Promotions Director, the Anthropology major books shows and handles merchandise.
“We appreciate and need the support and we love our listeners for it and without them we couldn’t be doing this,” Smith said.
WIDR Week Events
On Monday, March 17, WIDR announcer Moldy Pie will broadcast live music all night, starting at 7 p.m.
“[The event is] called WIDR All-Nighter. We have bands play from 7 o’clock in the back room. We broadcast that live until 2,3,4 in the morning depending on how many bands we get,” said Smith.
Wednesday, March 19, will be a WIDR movie night, hosting by the Doctor at the 411 club. The event will feature the film “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” Must be 18 and older to enter and give a minimum $3 donation. All proceeds go to WIDR.
Thursday, March 20, the radio station will host an acoustic/poetry night at the Vine Neighborhood Association, 509 W Vine St. Graham Parsons & The Go Rounds, Secret Animals and Alex Young will play acoustic music.
Attendees will hear poetry by local poets John Ado Brakefield and Emily Townsend. A $3 minimum donation is required.
Friday, March 21, is day one of WIDR showcasing bands at Shakespeare’s Pub, lower level, on 241 E Kalamazoo Ave. Day one will feature bands Cobalt Mexican Wolves, Sacred Strays, Lincoln County War, and Circle, Get Square. Must be 21 and older and give a minimum $3 donation. The event starts at 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 22, features Stalemate, Anybody But The Cops, and Mold at Shakespeare’s Pub lower level at 9 p.m. 21 and over will be admitted and a minimum $3 donation is required.
WIDR Music Director Joe Silver has a large amount of power over what music is played on the student-run station.
“It’s great. It’s by far given me the most opportunity than any other student organization,” Silver said, who had been a part of the Western Student Association, Drive Safe Kalamazoo, and different honors societies throughout his college career. “Nothing really did it for me until I found this place.”
Silver, a third year majoring in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, announces under the name of “Smokey Joe” and does the heritage hour on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m.
While announcing, Silver prefers to play “all things new and obscure. We’re here to promote music that, by definition, you would not hear at any other radio station,” Silver said.
The third year won a College Music Journal award his first year in Oct. 2013. Silver was one of four nominees up for the college radio award, and was the first WIDR employee to win. The award gave Silver more connections in the music industry.
“My job’s great because it’s connecting me to all sorts of industry members who are representatives at marketing agencies and labels,” Silver said. “They’re the ones responsible for sending us music and then I review that music and give them feedback on what we’re playing and what we’re not,” Silver said.
WIDR’s purpose is to give students great experiences, according to Silver.
“If they wish to continue the existence of a non-profit alternative radio station, they ought to donate,” Silver said.
Last year, $25,000 was the radio station’s goal, according to WIDR’s Program Director Jax Kappeler, but because of the student media fee, they are not “strapped for cash.”
Kappeler, a senior majoring in Film, Video, and Media Studies, has been working at WIDR for about 18 months, when she started as an office assistant.
“WIDR week is a fun way for the community to get involved and give back to the station that has always supported the community, specifically the music community,” Kappeler said. “There’s a bunch of fun and exciting events and it’s going to be a really good time.”
Kappeler plays a lot of punk, indie, acoustic and gypsy punk music.
“It’s more important that people just get involved and know the station and feel like our events are something that everyone’s invited to,” Kappeler said.