On the airwaves: KSDB director manages student-created media at radio station

James Copeland (Courtesy Photo by Monica Birch)

A flow of information and a voice for the people is what ties a community together. 91.9 KSDB acts as that voice for those in the Manhattan area, but its sound waves reach farther than just the Little Apple.

James Copeland, senior in broadcasting, serves as the program director for this student-run radio station, which features everything from radio dramas to up-and-coming artists, along with sports, news, weather, jazz, hip hop and an open mic segment.

“I am in charge of everything that goes out on the air,” Copeland said. “It’s a pretty big job because we are on the air 24/7, 365.”

Juggling the responsibilities of managing a radio station is no easy task, especially while shouldering the responsibility of being a full-time student.

“This is pretty much my full-time job,” Copeland said. “I am a full-time student, but that’s almost second to what I do here. I average about 30 hours a week here, but it’s usually more than that. It’s a seven-day-a-week job.”

So why take on this extra work during, arguably, one of the most stressful times of a person’s life? Copeland said although this role is not a simple task to take on, it’s rewards outweigh the downsides.

“You’re only in college once, and for most of us, it is four to six years of our lives, so there’s no reason not to give it your all,” Copeland said.

Through struggle, Copeland has grown throughout his two years as program director with the assistance of Vern Wirka, KSDB-FM faculty advisor and JMC instructor.

“He’s been a great mentor,” Copeland said. “He’s taught me so much about broadcasting and electronics and has been there through thick and thin. We’ve certainly had our share of ups and downs here at the station. He’s always there and is ready to help. I owe a lot to him.”

Wirka speaks highly of Copeland’s work.

“He’s been excellent, and he’s really taken advantage of learning all aspects of this business,” Wirka said. “He likes the technical side, operational side, news side, writes well and certainly has found his particular voice. He’s also discovered some areas that may not be what he wants to pursue at this time, which is what this educational process is all about.”

But how does a radio station assist a community?

Copeland said a radio station not only acts as the service to the people by providing news, but also is the beating heart of the community.

James Copeland, senior in broadcasting, is the program director for 91.9 KSDB-FM.

“At the end of the day, a radio station should be the beating heart of the community,” Copeland said. “I want to people to tune in and know what is going on. We inform first, and then we entertain second. We are not just providing music, but also news and emergency information and everything people need.”

91.9 KSDB fulfills this role in part though providing an open mic five days a week during the school year, so the community has a platform to directly voice opinions, share talents and provide information on upcoming events.

“We’re giving back to the community,” Copeland said. “At the end of the day, that’s what I want. I want to involve every aspect of campus. We have people come in from the library and SGA, but ideally you have every different entity coming on. I want to help promote everyone.”

Bolstering the community doesn’t stop just at providing an open mic. 91.9 KSDB also features local musicians.

“I always find new music from tuning in, and it’s great that artists I have never previously known about get to be heard,” Bayler Kelly, sophomore in computer science, said.

Copeland said working at 91.9 KSDB is a great opportunity.

“If you’re interested in anything relating to media, we have a website, a newsletter, a cable channel, we have online, we have video, we have everything,” Copeland said. “If you’re at all interested in anything relating to broadcast, you should come here because you can be involved in everything from on air to graphic design to sports. There’s room for anyone, whatever your talents are.”

My name is Katelin Woods and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in public relations in May 2020. I worked as the first audience engagement manager of the Collegian from 2019 to 2020 and took photos for the multimedia staff. I was also the founding editor of the culture desk in 2018. I am an enthusiast of a poetry, pizza roll and pajamas.