Keeping UMPI on the Air

Walking onto a college campus for the first time can be scary. Many students don’t know their classmates very well yet. Sometimes students can feel lonely and cut off from campus life. Luckily, UMPI has many clubs and organizations. Its members are always looking to welcome new students. They reach out and give students a community to belong to.

One of those clubs is UMPI’s radio station WUPI 92.1 “The Owl.” The station has had a quiet life at UMPI since 1973. UMPI students volunteer as DJs. They all have their own radio shows. Other students help lead the station to great heights. One of those students is UMPI sophomore Katharine Waldron.

Waldron is WUPI’s station manager. She is a political science major. Waldron started volunteering at the station last year as a DJ. She hosted a show about student government. For a while, everything at WUPI was going great. But many of the DJs graduated last May. Waldron wasn’t the station manager at the time. The current manager kept the station going during the summer.

Last fall, Waldron and the station manager reached out to students. They found many students interested in volunteering. Many of them became DJs. In October, the manager had to step down. Waldron decided to fill that void.

“Since then, we’ve been growing in numbers and just rebuilding from the ground up,” Waldron says.

Waldron is also the president of WUPI. As station manager, she makes sure everything runs smoothly. She trains new DJs and helps them become comfortable with talking on the air. She says any student can become a DJ. It doesn’t matter what the major is. Some of the current DJs are psychology, business, athletic training and French majors. There are even a few UMPI athletes.

“What’s so cool is when you have your own radio show on a college station, you kind of have free range to talk about specific things on your show,” Waldron says. “We have a sports talk show. We have a French show. I do a history throwback type of show. We even have a help/advice talk show with our psychology major. It’s really cool to listen to, actually.”

The most exciting part for Waldron is training new DJs. When they come in for the first time, she interviews them live on the radio. Then they slowly learn to become less nervous with talking on the air. Waldron knows how scary it can be to talk on the air for the first time. She wants to use her experience to help DJs learn from their mistakes.

“Nobody’s going to be perfect,” Waldron says. “This gives you the ability, without the constraints of a real job, to just do your own thing. Just relax. Strive for your best and it’s OK to mess up.”

Taylor Skinner is one of WUPI’s DJs. He has always loved radio. His father worked at Channel X radio in Caribou for 16 years. At an early age, Skinner decided he wanted to host his own radio show.

Skinner has been a DJ at WUPI since last fall. He is a freshman at UMPI. His show is “Lunch Hour” and focuses mostly on music. His DJ name is “Lefty Gripson.” Skinner thinks that having a radio station is great for UMPI. It gives students a chance to express themselves.

“They can come in here. They can give themselves a fake name and be someone else for an hour or two. I feel like that’s a great asset,” Skinner says.

Music, Skinner says, is his favorite part about being a DJ. He likes getting song requests from people and finding new songs to play. Being in charge of the music he plays is also something that Skinner enjoys.

“It’s not a big station. We cover the Presque Isle area, but that’s big enough for me,” Skinner says. “We want to play music you want to hear and we do it all basically commercial free. It can’t get any better than that.”

Both Waldron and Skinner want WUPI to be a major part of campus life. One of their goals is to take part in more community events. On March 19, WUPI will sponsor a wrestling event on campus from Avalanche Wrestling and Entertainment. The proceeds will go to Special Olympics. In the future, the station would like to cover other live events.

Waldron thinks the station can be a great learning tool for students.

“You can certainly use this radio station to help with oral communication skills. It helps students to grow those skills better. That’s really beneficial for the workplace,” Waldron says. “We want students to use this as a key resource. And we want to keep being able to be a resource to the county as well.”

Skinner’s goal is to make WUPI more well-known on campus. Before he became a DJ, he didn’t know UMPI had a radio station. Now he wants that to be different for other students.

“I’d like to be able to walk around campus and hear people say ‘Hey, did you hear that show last night?’ or ‘I can’t wait to listen to that show,’” Skinner says. “I want people excited to hear us. I want us to be one of the biggest things here on campus.”

All students are welcome to volunteer for WUPI. They can contact Waldron at katharine.waldron@maine.edu. Or they can email Skinner at taylor.skinner@maine.edu.

WUPI has great things to offer UMPI students. It can be a chance to host a unique radio show. They may hear about another campus club and decide to join. Or they can just turn on the radio, relax and listen to their favorite show. Students have many interests. WUPI is there to make sure none of them feel left out of college life.