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New recording studio in Memorial Union for WRIU

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011 21:02

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Chloe Thompson

University of Rhode Island senior Tyler Whittaker works on checking the system and playing back some audio feeds, in the new recording studio room of URI's radio station WRIU.

03/25/09 - The University of Rhode Island's commercial-free radio station, WRIU 90.3, has just acquired equipment to produce high-quality recordings in a newly furnished studio in the Memorial Union.While the station could record live sets and performances before it opened the new studio, the equipment did not allow for proper mixing and production quality standards to be met.


According to the general manager of the station, Tyler Whittaker, the studio space and the structure have been at the university for about 15 years,

"It was set up to do live broadcasts with bands, and I think the students who had the room built intended it to eventually be a recording studio," he said. "But there's a lot of turnover in a student-run facility. Combined with funding issues, it just never materialized until now."


Ian Reyes, an assistant professor of communications at URI, was instrumental in getting the proper equipment for the studio. He also provides advice for the station volunteers and those looking to record.


"I'm really looking forward to the future," Reyes said. "It just fundamentally changes the cultural climate when a university has a means to represent itself in this way."


WRIU is working to get student-run organizations and other groups not involved with URI to come and record public service announcements. Whittaker said that Federal Communications Commission regulations require any non-commercial station, such as WRIU, to play a certain number of PSAs per day. These PSAs must serve the interests of the community, or in this case, URI.


"The problem is that a lot of the PSAs that get played are not specifically community-serving," Whittaker said. "We're looking to change that."


Reyes said the station used pre-recorded content before the studio opened.


"Before [WRIU] had the recording studio, they couldn't have original community-produced content unless somebody took it upon themselves to record something at home," he said. "Now we can just do it here."


Whittaker added these PSAs could include content ranging from event notifications to group meeting times and awareness campaigns for local issues. He said they intend to reach out to local community and environmental groups, like Save the Bay.


"We want to get more student and community groups in for PSAs," Whittaker said. "I've been talking to different clubs, like Student Action for Sustainability, and a few other organizations besides them have certainly expressed interest."


Because the station only had the new equipment for about six weeks, they have focused on getting volunteers familiar with the system rather than outreach into the surrounding community.


"We're still trying to make sure the people in there know what they're doing before we start inviting people to come in and potentially waste their time," Reyes said.


Reyes is helping with the studio and is using it as a compliment to his curriculum. Students in his Audio Communication In The Media class have come into the studio to get a hands-on experience in sound recording. When he first came to the university, his class did not have any useable recording equipment at all, let alone a furnished studio.


"When I arrived here, I said where's the recording studio?" Reyes said. "They said, 'Well, we don't really have one.'"


Once at URI, Reyes and Whittaker started the process to get the proper equipment for the studio.


"They had every piece of the recording studio except for the thing that would record," Reyes said. "So as far as an investment of time and energy, it was really a no-brainer because they had all the hidden costs and hidden labor here already."


Maxwell Adepoju, a communication studies major at URI and a member of Reyes' class, said he is excited about the studio. He is producing hip-hop beats in the studio and thinks it will advance URI music.


"There's a lot of musicians and artists with no way to fully utilize their skills without the proper equipment. Now that they have that, everything is going to be local," Adepoju said.


Reyes is hopeful about what this studio could do for the university in terms of locally produced content. He said it will help get URI involved both in the music scene and the local community.

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