On Monday, March 31, Mark Wheat, the weekday evening host on Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current, will be on campus discussing the public radio industry with students in an open presentation in Tomson Hall 280 at 3:15 p.m. The Manitou Messenger spoke with Wheat and Carolyn Bernhardt ’14, station manager at St. Olaf’s student radio station KSTO. Bernhardt is helping to coordinate Wheat’s visit.
Manitou Messenger: How did you first get involved with KSTO and St. Olaf?
Mark Wheat: St. Olaf is part of the birth of The Current. The transmitter 89.3 used to be St. Olaf’s classical musical station WCAL. So when we started in 2005, the students at the campus station reached out to me and asked if I wanted to visit. That was when it was in the old swimming pool?! I wanted to maintain the connection because of the historical connection we have. I can’t go to all the campuses in Minnesota; this one’s special.
MM: What are you looking forward to about visiting St. Olaf/KSTO?
MW: I always enjoy being around students, especially when they have so much energy and enthusiasm for music. I expect to learn something. Last year I said in my presentation that I shouldn’t be the one to decide where radio goes next. It’s your generation that should re-define it for our new digital age.
MM: How did you get started in the radio business? What inspired you?
MW: I listened to a BBC DJ called John Peel when I was growing up and starting to follow music as my “hobby.” I used to think he had a dream job. Then when I moved to the U.S. in ’84 I realized that you could learn how to do radio by volunteering at college and at community stations. I thought that was genius – I didn’t have that opportunity in the UK. So I did it for free for 12 years. I always tell enthusiasts of radio, of any age, that’s the easiest way to do it, follow your passion.
MM: What advice do you have for aspiring radio personalities?
MW: Forget it! Seriously. I think I’ll outlive what we now know as radio as a viable industry to aspire to be in. Your generation has to figure out what kind of communication services are needed for the future and aspire to those!
MM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
MW: Over the past few years we’ve been hearing about all the great bands in Northfield, that the town has its own scene, which is great. I like to give advice to young aspiring local musicians, so if you’re in a band bring your CD, if you still make those!
MM: What can we expect from Mark Wheat’s visit to campus?
Carolyn Bernhardt: Mr. Wheat will give a talk in Tomson 280 on his personal history with and perspective on radio in a digital age. There will be a Q&A held after his talk, and a few students from Carleton may even be joining us. It’s really fun and engaging listening to Mark Wheat speak, so I encourage anyone to come on down and check it out the day after Spring Break! KSTO has had nothing but wonderful interactions with him.
MM: What are some opportunities that the KSTO station provides, in general?
CB: KSTO provides the students of St. Olaf the opportunity to share their thoughts, insights, sense of humor and music taste with the student body as a DJ. Additionally, since we stream online, KSTO can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It’s a great opportunity to flesh out your own thoughts to listeners and develop fun new abilities as a radio host. We never reject an application, so KSTO is available to all who wish to use it as a resource.
KSTO also provides its listeners with quality music selections, news updates campus, regional, state, national and world, sports broadcasting shows, various talk shows and much more – we even have a radio drama these days. As such, KSTO has something for any listener.
Additionally, KSTO is home to 14 staff members, all of whom play a crucial role in the overall operation of the station, and we are currently hiring for next year’s staff. More information on working for KSTO can be found on our website, and applications will go live on the site shortly following spring break.
MM: What else is coming up at KSTO?
CB: In the week following Mark Wheat’s visit April 1-4, KSTO will be officially dropping its new iPhone and Android app. Designed by Doug Binder ’14, this app allows listeners to stream KSTO live from their phones. It can also be set to alert you when your favorite show is about to start. We’ll be tabling outside Stav Hall every dinner that week, so stop by our table to ask us any questions about how to get the app, etc. We’ll even be selling our awesome new t-shirts!