By Aleksandra Sidorova
SUNY Plattsburgh’s student-run campus radio station known for more than two decades as WQKE is rebranding to Quake Productions as it returns to the scene of student involvement.
A club becomes “frozen” after three semesters without training its officers. Interim Director of the Center for Student Involvement Jacob Avery said Quake found itself in the middle of a “perfect storm.”
First, COVID-19 prevented Quake from hosting meetings and producing its usual content, then its “excellent” long-time Adviser Timothy Clukey retired last semester, and recently, there have been office space disputes.
Now, however, the club has regained active status and its officers have been trained. All remaining steps, such as revising the club constitution and submitting a budget, should be complete by the end of April, Avery said. Quake’s new adviser is Communication Studies Lecturer James Ward.
Besides the name change, Quake has shifted its creative direction to become a “hub for all things media,” in the words of Quake President Garrett Jones. By getting off the radio air and instead offering on-demand podcasting content, Quake is adjusting to a new media landscape while staying true to its mission of producing quality audio-based content — “keeping the radio aspect alive.” Quake also saves thousands of dollars that would go to radio station licensing fees.
“Radio, as a format that we know, when you’re in your car listening to a DJ, is still happening, but it’s definitely changing. We’re seeing that more people are consuming podcasts — they want to listen to things on-demand when they’re ready to,” Quake Executive Producer Melissa Forte said. “Right now, podcasting is so lucrative. It’s so accessible to so many people, so it only makes sense that WQKE moves into Quake Productions and adapts.”
Quake currently has the first installments of two podcast shows on its YouTube channel and SoundCloud account: “Various Voices,” where students discuss the end of WQKE, and “Pay it Forward,” featuring ‘14 SUNY Plattsburgh alumnus Trevor Kent, who now works in Los Angeles. Jones said there are plans for a show hosted in Spanish. Forte looks forward to producing content that is both informative and entertaining, aiming to showcase the racial, ethnic, gender and religious diversity of the SUNY Plattsburgh body.
Forte also wants Quake to complement other campus media outlets’ coverage of SUNY Plattsburgh and work together with them.
“I see [campus media outlets] as very necessary pieces to this beautiful pie that is campus and student life,” Forte said. “I think it’s beautiful when you can have so many different stories. It’s boring when you can only have one source of media consumption. So when you have a variety of media on campus, that’s amazing, and I would love to see cross-collaboration in the future.”
As another part of its rebrand, the club is moving its headquarters from the corner of Burghy’s Den on the first floor of Angell College Center to the middle of Yokum Hall. Jones said the offices are “small,” with enough room for storage, and “almost soundproof.” Before the club finalized the decision, it met in a Yokum conference room and Burghy’s Den.
The club made this decision before any disputes arose surrounding office moves involving the offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Enrollment and Student Success; and Fraternity and Sorority Life, in which Fraternity and Sorority Life was initially planned to move to the space that had belonged to WQKE.
Some of Quake’s new content was produced using the communication department’s equipment, as samples to “show the SA that we actually know what we’re doing,” Jones said. Quake still has the equipment from its WQKE days, of which some is still good to use and some will be sold or replaced.
Joining Quake will give any student interested a chance to learn to use any technical equipment, as only communication studies majors may rent equipment from the communication studies department’s equipment cage, Forte said. The club currently has about 10 members and hopes to attract more by appealing to the entire campus and not limiting itself to communication studies majors or people who are already skilled in handling equipment and producing content.
“If we’re going to be student-focused, we can’t be like, ‘You have to come with this amount of knowledge’ — there are job applications and job postings for that. College is the place where you get to get your hands dirty and make mistakes and learn. That’s the place where you get to do all of this, so we cannot be putting barriers on student access,” Forte said. “How I see it is we really should be the place where students can get the opportunity to play, because there aren’t many opportunities for a lot of people.”
Forte, who is graduating in May, has always wanted to be part of Quake, but was never able to join until now.
“It’s going to take some time for us to rebuild, and it’s going to take some time for things to ‘return to normal’ but I am very excited to be part of the people who are planting the seeds so that Quake and many clubs like it can just be successful and thrive on campus,” Forte said.