Trinity’s Radio Station Unveils New Studio After Years of Community Efforts

6 min read

Nick Cimillo ’26

Staff Writer

On a cold and cloudy Saturday evening, Melissa Evans walks into the offices of WRTC, Trinity’s own non-commercial FM radio station, located on the first floor of High Rise. In most respects, this evening holds nothing new for her; Evans, who has nearly 40 years of radio experience, has been with WRTC for the past four, and plays a variety of classic rock for the station on Tuesday mornings and Saturday nights. This night, however, is different in one significant way: it marks her first time going live in WRTC’s new, spacious broadcast studio.

“It’s like driving a car,” Evans remarked as she studied a guide for the studio’s new control board before her show began. “You have to know where the controls are, and they’re all different when you have a new board… I don’t usually have to use my brain too much, I could do this in my sleep on the other [board].” Indeed, the shiny new equipment is just one of several upgrades the new studio has over the old one; not only is it also decked out with new furniture and decorations, but the space itself is much larger, allowing ample room for more guests and even small bands for live performances. It has also been soundproofed to prevent disruption to High Rise residents on upper floors.

These technical benefits come courtesy of WRTC’s chief engineer, John Schwenk. “I proposed the project,” Schwenk recounted, “wrote the functional specifications, over[saw] the contractors, designed and built the furniture… likewise for the wiring system and custom lighting system, and even the interior decorating.” In addition to having to coordinate all the people involved with the development and construction of the studio, one of the biggest challenges that WRTC faced with this new studio was getting started with construction at all. “It took many years to get this project done,” Schwenk said, “and most of that time was waiting to actually just get it off the ground.”

The time between the initial proposal for the studio up to its completion spanned seven years, and a large portion of that time was spent gathering the necessary funds. “We paid for this studio from listener donations,” emphasized Chris Cowles, the general manager of WRTC. “Trinity didn’t pay for this studio; this is all money that we raised as a staff here.” Even though WRTC’s broadcast area primarily serves the greater Hartford metropolitan area, it is streamed online to reach an even greater listener base. WRTC listeners hail from as far out as Washington state; donations have come from 22 states and two have even come from other countries. “We’re very lucky to have a growing listener base, and more and more fans out there who like what we’re doing.”

In addition to gathering funds both via listener donations and annual fundraising events, the executive board for WRTC’s staff, consisting of Trinity students and Hartford community members, also had to help move the project along towards approval. One such e-board member was Fiona McElroy ’20, who served as the station manager during her senior year at Trinity, a time when the studio was still in its planning phase. McElroy gave her reasons for supporting the project: “I think the new studio [is] a really great opportunity to give all of the DJs who are so invested in the [station] a nicer space, a more welcoming space,” she added. “I definitely think that WRTC is a unique and invaluable resource for everybody. It’s definitely one of the ways that the community is most integrated into the campus life.”

Years of efforts finally culminated into the studio’s very first live broadcast on the evening of March 6, 2024, hosted by students Thomas Mullane ’25 and Patrick McGeoghean ’25. The two immediately noticed some welcome changes in the new studio: “It’s just so much bigger of a space… Music in there sounds way better,” Mullane noted. McGeoghean added, “You can close the door, and it’s just completely soundproof… It’s just a nice change of scenery, too.” They also saw how the space would be of long- term benefit for the station and its staff; McGeoghean said that “For WRTC, it definitely expands things… [with] some of the new features [like] the additional microphones and space… you can bring in [multiple] people for interviews.” “And you couldn’t really do that [in the old studio], unless it was over the phone,” Mullane added.

But the new studio’s benefits reach far beyond the staff of WRTC. “When it comes to serving the greater Hartford area,” said Cowles, “we’re doing Trinity [events]. We’ll do football, we’ll do Samba Fest, we’ll do live music that’s going on on campus…there’s [even] been talk of doing broadcasts from the Chapel.” WRTC has an expansive range in musical genres, spanning from rock to jazz to gospel, but there’s also great diversity in the kinds of programs on the station beyond music. College events are broadcast, interviews are conducted and, in her time at Trinity, Fiona McElroy ’20 even engaged in political commentary.

There is much that can be done with the medium of audio. As Evans put it on her first Saturday night in the studio, “Everybody’s got their forte here… and that’s the beauty of it. It’s very diverse programming.” If the new studio is any indication, WRTC will continue to give the diverse voices of Trinity and Hartford an outlet for music, education and discussion well off into the future.

Alongside the listeners who donated and the students and alumni who served on the executive board, there are many more people whose efforts made this new studio possible. Trinity’s Facilities Project Manager, Mike Gibbons, aided in the studio’s design and construction, as well as the hiring and overseeing of contractors. Professors Gary Reger, Joe Palladino, Seth Markle and Kari Theurer served as supportive faculty advisors over the studio’s development. In addition, Trinity’s CFO, Dan Hitchell, is responsible for the approval of the studio and for assistance with funding.

The studio will be dedicated to the late Bob Parzych ’76. Parzych served as the general manager of WRTC and was part of the staff for the majority of his life.

You May Also Like

+ There are no comments

Add yours