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Birthplace Studios and WSCB set to return in 2023

By Braedan Shea

Perched front and center on the Naismith Green, with a masterfully created hand-drawn poster board, stood a club trying to reignite a dying flame. While every club and organization represented at the annual Club Fair loves to take advantage of the opportunity to attract new members, this one felt a little more important for WSCB and Birthplace Studios.

But a signup sheet full of over 20 names interested in joining at the conclusion of the event signaled that the fire had successfully been relit, once again bringing a new era of audio journalism on Alden Street.

When it first aired in the late 1950s, WSCB 89.9 “The Birthplace” looked to hop on the radio trend that had been booming during this time.

“FM radio was really a whole vibe,” faculty advisor Kyle Belanger said. “That’s the birth of so many incredible musical movements and moments that turned into modern rock and roll and r&b and Motown. That’s at the precipice of that.”

WSCB started in hopes of being a voice of more than just the campus, but the community of Springfield as a whole. Within just a few years, it had passed that goal with flying colors.

“There were years and years when our station was a vibrant source of information for the campus and entertainment for the whole community,” Belanger said. “It became almost exclusively a community resource – there was really no campus part of it. Community members were playing records, and it became a real resource for the neighborhoods that would use it as their voice.”

Initially hosted on the fourth floor of Judd Gymnasia, WSCB was a major success. But as the end of the 2000’s inched closer, the studio packed full of crates of CDs and wires and broken 8-track players, along with a barely working signal, was far too outdated to carry on as it was.

Enter Kyle Belanger.

In 2010, with a little bit of luck and a lot of work from Belanger, an Assistant Professor of Communications at Springfield, a perfect opportunity arose. When the canteen on the first floor of Abbey-Appleton Hall moved to the newly-constructed Campus Union, the space was no longer in use. Belanger knew that in order to get the station back on its feet, it would need a new headquarters. The spot was a perfect fit.

For a few years, the new location had completely revived the voice of Springfield College. But again, times were changing and a new direction was taking place, in the form of podcasting.

“With the constant evolution of the audio format, it allowed the leaders for the last two years to focus on developing a podcast network to really modernize who we were as an audio club,” Belanger said.

By heading down the podcast route, live radio had to be sacrificed. But it wouldn’t be forgotten.

“We knew that to build the podcast network into what it could be, we were going to need to have to put all of our efforts into that construction – knowing full well that once that was established, we’re going to be able to come back to the live radio stream and then erected in a much more complete and modern way,” Belanger said.

Now in 2023, the live radio station is set to make a full return. And it isn’t the only audio group to do so.

Birthplace Studios will be back on air as well.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity to bring it back, especially after COVID,” Reese Merritt, President of Birthplace Studios said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the studio became almost unusable. Due to its smaller size, only one person was allowed in the recording room at once. The regulations killed the productivity, and left students unable to maximize the studio’s potential, the airways again fell silent.

But with the pandemic now – hopefully – behind us, and a burning desire from Merritt to resurrect the club, Birthplace Studios is set for a much-anticipated relaunch.

“I wanted to be president because I wanted to bring back a special club,” Merritt said. “I feel like that club had a really special place. So to bring back people who, like myself and the rest of the leadership team, it’s really important that we bring those people who are really invested in and really want to improve it and change it for the better.”

Besides getting the name back out around campus, Merritt and his team are working at making sure the equipment is up and running.

Yet Merritt finds that the thing he is working at most is making sure that anyone is welcome.

“We want to put the opportunity out to all students, not just sports journalism students, but all students who have that interest,” Merritt said.

The club’s first meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Weiser 007.

Photo by Braedan Shea/The Student

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