WPCD celebrates 40 years of operation

Student DJ Joel Middelton hosts his program during his shift at 88.7 WPCD FM.

Student DJ Joel Middelton hosts his program during his shift at 88.7 WPCD FM.

Derian Silva 

Staff Writer

Parkland’s 88.7 WPCD FM is about to officially celebrate being at Parkland for 40 years.

The radio station has been a staple within Parkland that has helped advance students onto professional careers within the field of broadcasting for decades. This is one of the most emphasized points about the station; the hands-on experience that students get.

“A career like radio requires hands-on experience. I could talk theory in the classroom until I become blue in the face, but the students can’t get real experience without actually doing a shift or making a spot,” said Adam Porter, a professor of communication at Parkland; he also teaches the broadcast announcing courses every semester.

Parkland did not initially have a radio program, but as time progressed it was obvious that the college would benefit students by incorporating broadcast technology into its curriculum.

“You don’t just decide to create a radio station, so there must have been some real thought and commitment to bringing it to a reality,” said Deane Geiken, radio director of WPCD.

There were talented members of Parkland’s staff helping making WPCD a reality, however it has been the students that have given it its breath. The radio shifts are filled entirely by students, allowing them to explore their creativity and abilities.

“I hope they become more confident in themselves. But I also hope that the station can be a place where they always feel welcomed, and where they always feel like they belong,” Porter said.

Geiken has had a unique perspective on this, being both a former student of Parkland and now the radio director.

“I started as a student at WPCD in the ‘80s when attending Parkland College. In that time, the station used a pair of turntables to play the vinyl records (both 33 and 45 RPM) that were part of our format,” he said.

The process during his time was a bit more involved, as there had to be someone at the station for it to be on the air. The station had to be turned on early in the morning and at the end of the day turned off. Now the system runs entirely off automation.

“News was gathered from the ‘ticker’ which was the news feed that fed a sheet of paper on a regular basis of the most updated news articles. The students had to gather it, sort it and turn it into a full 5-minute news program for the 9 a.m., noon and I think 4 p.m. hours,” said Geiken.

The station has been improving over time, not only in terms of technology, but also in the public eye.

“That said [about not knowing every detail from the past], from what I have seen and heard, the station is getting better and better, from both a listener and student perspective. The format is great, the music is fresh and constantly updated, the students get to play an integral role in the station, and the classes are extremely hands-on,” Porter said.

This is another area where students have played an integral part in allowing the station to become what it is. The students are on air, but they’re also the ones interacting with friends who are giving them feedback about how to make the station better.

“I have learned to listen to the students. There are a lot of good ideas that are now standard operating procedure or maybe part of our programming that started as suggestions from students.  While they are here, this is their station. I want them to feel invested in it,” said Geiken.

Students wishing to become involved with WPCD should take the COM 141 course, which teaches the skills to operate and broadcast effectively.

Porter and Geiken say they enjoy being part of the station and hope others enjoy it as well.

“I love getting to be a part of WPCD. Deane Geiken is an amazing station director, Jason Hayes is a wonderful producer, and the students are awesome,” Porter said.

“It is my hope to bring more attention to the station to the outside community and I really hope to bring both the current and past WPCD alumni together to share stories and experiences. I also hope that everyone who hears about the station knows just how important it is to so many. For many people who have come through the college, it is their time at WPCD that proved to be their favorite memory and the source of many of their good lifelong friends and colleagues,” Geiken said.