Allocate Space for WBAR in the New Library Building
For 21 years, WBAR has been a strong positive presence on campus, bringing students together through a love of music and art. Unfortunately, our group has been dealing with severe issues related to our location for nearly a decade. Our current station rooms in the basement of Reid Hall are cramped, dusty, and pest-infested. They cause us a great deal of problems, and are holding the station back from its full potential. Recently, we heard of Barnard's plan to demolish Lehman Hall and build a new library. We wish to petition SGA, GBB, and Barnard's administration to provide a space for WBAR in the new library. For years, Barnard has been unable to find us a proper on-campus home because of the scarcity of free space. Since it will create a great deal of new spaces, this new building is our only chance to house our station properly and expand our programming in a way that will benefit the entire campus community.
We are one of Barnard’s largest clubs and our DJ pool contains over 120 students from all schools and backgrounds. WBAR allows members of the university the opportunity to engage in a vibrant musical community, either by DJing on-air or by listening to the station's online stream. We create opportunities for interschool unity but always maintain a great sense of Barnard pride. We host programs of all genres and themes, providing a diverse outlet for student expression. Whether a student wishes to broadcast their favorite songs, discuss politics, or interview campus characters, they are welcome at WBAR. The station's importance lies in the fact that it allows students a unique creative space to express themselves in a way that other outlets do not provide.
Our station currently occupies two rooms in the basement of Reid Hall but, before its demolition, we inhabited several rooms in the McIntosh Student Center. Reid was meant to be a temporary location until space could be found for us in the new Diana Center, but we have been in the basement for nearly 10 years.
In the intervening decade, the station has only grown. Last year’s operating budget was the largest in station history, and we accepted a record number of student DJ applications. It stands to reason that this organization’s current presence on campus is vital and indelible.
However, our future growth is severely limited by our current physical location. It creates myriad problems and personnel time is spent resolving these issues rather than advancing our commitment to campus artistic life. The station’s subterranean location creates the stuffy, damp environment that serves as a crucible for a number of infestations: rodents, cockroaches, dust, and mold.
Despite Facilities’ frequent extermination visits, pests pose a constant threat to both DJs and equipment. Roaches run rampant in the office and rats have chewed through equipment, destroying two amplifiers. Several times, we have received word that water mains in the basement have burst, partially flooding the Quad. Thankfully, none of the water reached the station. If it had, our collection of recorded music and tech equipment - amassed over two decades - could have been destroyed. Worse, there are dangers to student health present in the space. Cigarette fumes flow in freely from the street through air vents and present a concern to student health, as does an anonymous powder that falls from the ceiling of our office room. We love WBAR but we are frustrated at the frequency and scope of our space problems.
Finally, the sign-in issues necessitated by WBAR’s current location prevent it from realizing its potential. Nearly 40% of our DJs are students in CC, SEAS, and GS. Since our space is within a dorm building, DJs who attend Columbia University must be signed in as Barnard guests and are required to surrender their IDs to the desk attendant, who maintains a list of the station’s current DJs. In more than one instance, miscommunication with administrator desk attendants has prevented lists from being updated with each new semester, resulting in confusion and halting programming until the issue is resolved. Additionally, the current sign-in process is alienating to non-Barnard DJs, who are repeatedly made to prove their right to enter the station. If we were allocated a space within the new library, this problem would be easily solved. All university affiliates have access to the library, so all DJs would be able to freely enter the building.
With these problems resolved, WBAR will be able to move forward with a variety of projects to bring ever-improving programming to the Barnard community. Our staff will spend less time solving problems related to cleanliness and the sign-in system, and will devote their full energy to expanding the reach and scope of WBAR's programming.
Though new media outlets have proclaimed the decline of traditional radio, we believe in the resiliency and importance of FM. For this reason, one of our major goals is to return WBAR to its rightful place on the dial - 87.9 FM. To achieve this, we will need to acquire a transmitter and wire it for broadcasting. This is a technically easy feat made complex by our basement-dwelling status. Reid 003, our station room, is a dead spot. One cannot pick up Wi-Fi signals or cell phone service there, so we have no reason to think that we could adequately broadcast an FM signal out of the space. Relocation would allow us to realize our dream of returning to FM.
Our secondary broadcasting goal is to begin airing regular news updates and campus announcements. These additions would need to be pre-recorded, but we currently have only one studio room.With the room in constant use, we are unable to make pre-records.Most other college radio stations have at least two studios, one for live broadcast and one for pre-recorded content. Since the new library will be large and spacious, we hope that there will be room available for us to expand physically in this way.
Despite the oddities of our space, WBAR has grown a great deal since our move into Reid. We now broadcast 24/7 and our large pool of DJs includes undergrads, graduate students, and even a few CU faculty members. Every semester, we host many on-campus events in conjunction with student groups like V-Day, 4x4, Barnard Zine Library, and Bacchanal.In the spring of 2013, we even received Barnard's Organization of Distinction award. People return to WBAR year after year because they love being part of our community and because they support our mission to inspire listeners with diverse freeform content. It pains us to know that the station's physical problems are preventing it from growing. WBAR has been seeking a new home for years, but free space is rare on such a small campus. If we were allocated a space in the new building, the station's staff would be able to work with Barnard to design an ideal, permanent home.