Maura Keary ’22
WRTC, Trinity College’s radio station, was recently one of five college radio stations in the U.S. named to be a recipient of a $2,000 College Radio Bret Grant.
The grants were made possible by the Bret Michaels’ Life Rocks Foundation, in cooperation with the College Radio Foundation (CRF). Michaels is best known for being the lead singer for the band Poison, but he has also been involved in a number of charity programs through his foundation over the years, particularly those helping diabetic children.
CRF announced five grants for $2,000 and another five for $1,000 for college stations who could demonstrate through an essay why they would benefit from one of the grants and how they would use it. Hundreds of stations applied.
WRTC rock coordinator and host of The Boris Rock Show on Wednesday mornings for 20-plus years Dr. Steve “Boris” Rafalowsky penned an essay and submitted it a few months ago. Rafalowsky explained in his submission that WRTC was planning on making studio improvements and equipment upgrades in the near future. He also detailed how it had been the lone non-commercial station in Connecticut that had remained “live” on the air during the entire Covid-19 pandemic with hosts in studio. Other non-commercial stations in the state had moved to pre-recorded programming or gone off the air. Those WRTC DJ’s and fill-ins who were able to broadcast their live shows while keeping in mind the proper health precautions and measures.
Rafalowsky relayed that the “dedication of our hosts to provide independent music to the Hartford community was very important to us, especially in these difficult times… I also explained that we were in the planning stages to build a larger, better-equipped studio to accommodate multiple guests and broadcast live bands.”
Based in Hewitt, New Jersey, CRF is a public charity dedicated to supporting the activities and continuing operations of all college radio stations in North America. It raises funds through sponsorship of events such as “College Radio Day.” This money is then put directly back into the hands of college radio stations in the form of bi-annual grants. CRF stated that the grantees can use this grant to maintain station functionality, such as covering equipment costs and replacements and renewing necessary licenses. Student station manager and host of show Sit Down & Shut Up Bailey Irwin ’21 spoke on how the grant will help the station in saying that “it provides us with an amazing opportunity to invest in the station’s future. It proves to us that it has paid off to remain on air throughout the entirety of the pandemic.”
WRTC, which marks its 75th anniversary next year, currently airs around 60 different programs on a weekly basis with a combination of hosts comprised of Trinity students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as community members from the surrounding area. Music genres range from country, rock and jazz to Portuguese, soul and more. There are currently about 20 students, faculty, staff and alumni hosting programs at the station.
WRTC station manager and host of show Greasy Tracks, Chris Cowles, expanded on what makes the station so special, stating that “the combination of staff ranging from students to community members, with all that enthusiasm to keep us on the air, doing entertaining programs is one thing, but there’s a drive to keep improving the station.”
As a non-commercial operation, WRTC gets some financial support from the College, but the bulk of its backing is received through donations from the community during its annual fundraising marathon in the fall, which brought in over $22,000 for the station in 2020. Cowles added that the grant “was a great surprise and we’re honored to have been recognized.”
Herman McKeever: An excellent award for such an excellent radio station.