Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 28, 2011

A window to our world

Goshen College's WGCS helps showcase our community to the area


GOSHEN — It’s 7:09 a.m. on a Tuesday and 21 degrees in Goshen. Earlier in the day, Trisha Handrich fell on the ice.

Handrich is talking about the mishap. In a sense, she’s telling the world about it.

The “On Air” light is on in the studio at 91.1 The Globe, the Goshen College radio station. On a good day, listeners can hear WGCS in about a 40-mile radius around campus. Online at globeradio.org, it streams live 24/7.

People can hear Handrich in Bristol, Ind., and Bristol, England.

Handrich is a GC senior and the student station manager. She’s seated at the microphone, talking to listeners of her “Breakfast Blend” morning show. They probably know her as Sadie Kruise, her on-air alter ego.

This morning, Handrich will broadcast a sports report. She’ll promote the student-run “Java Junction” coffeehouse and provide weather updates (“It’s going to get warmer.”) And her audience will hear a lot of music — Gregg Allman, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Card, MGMT and Spoon, to name a few.

“I get really excited about music,” the Bethany Christian High School graduate says, and The Globe is an outlet for her.

Earning the Sadie Kruise seal of approval is “Librarian” by My Morning Jacket. The “On Air” light is on again.

“Yes, you can sway back and forth and fall in love with a song,” Handrich says in introducing the tune. “I give you permission.”

‘A cool place’

The Globe broadcasts music, news, sports, a Sunday church service and much else. It also says something about Goshen.

Station general manager Jason Samuel, 40, thinks the message is positive.

“That Goshen is a cool place that you want to be,” he said. “We (at The Globe) love what Goshen is doing, what Goshen’s become. Say what you want about these economic times or problems in the world, Goshen’s a really nice place. There’s a real sense of community here.”

A record label representative told Samuel she’d heard so much about what’s going on here that she wants to check it out.

“She wants to see what it’s all about,” he said. “...People are always calling up asking, ‘Where can we play in your town?’”

The Globe promotes local art, music and other creative efforts, and Samuel feels the station is fair representation of the cultural scene that’s happening here.

Part of that scene is First Fridays, Goshen’s monthly downtown entertainment and business showcase. The event has an admirer in one of Handrich’s regular listeners who calls in from South Bend.

“She loves the fact that Goshen has First Fridays, and she wishes South Bend would do the same,” Handrich said. “...We’re involved in the community, so I think we portray the Goshen community through our radio station. Bringing artists to First Fridays, for instance, that you might not hear about — but they’re awesome.”

Samuel is a Philadelphia native who’s been in Goshen since he was 18. He’s watched the Maple City evolve.

“Goshen itself has become more culturally progressive,” Samuel said, “with art galleries and photo galleries and pottery guilds, woodworkers’ guilds, First Fridays and the theater downtown.”

Many of the people making changes in Goshen, according to Samuel, are Globe listeners and supporters.

“You try to find a town of 30,000 that has a downtown like we’ve got and that has a radio station like we’ve got,” Samuel said. “You’re going to be looking a long time.”

Getting ready

Samuel calls The Globe a “living laboratory,” with the goal of operating as professionally as possible. In part, it’s a place where students can hone their radio craft and become viable — and employable — entities.

One of those students is Benjamin Kelly, a Lakeland High School graduate.

According to Kelly, at another college radio station he’d still be waiting for his turn at the mic. He’s on the air at The Globe as a sophomore.

“It gives you a great opportunity right away,” he said.

Kelly said that when he was considering colleges, he wanted one with baseball and a good radio program. He wants to make a career out of doing sports play-by-play.

“Every time I come up here, I note that this is just a harbinger of what I’m going to be doing forever,” he said in the studio. “And every time I go to a ball game and get ready to talk about it for two and a half hours, I know that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. That really excites me.”

Sonic facelift

Samuel talked about the facade improvements in Goshen’s downtown. He says The Globe has had a facade renovation, too.

WGCS started in 1958. For years the format was classical music. In the late ’70s/early ’80s, late-night student programming began featuring more pop-oriented music. In the late 1990s, the “Crossings” block of folk and bluegrass was introduced.

Fast-forward to 2004 and a seismic musical shift. Since then The Globe’s playlist — 10,841 songs as of mid-February — has tilted Americana.

Americana? That’s a broad term, but think Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Greg Brown, Old 97s, Wilco. And The Globe colors outside even those musical lines.

The idea is to put out “a cool vibe,” Samuel said. Local, regional and national artists — established and less so, familiar and not so much — have a home at the station.

“The Globe is radio for people who don’t listen to radio anymore,” he said. “In other words, we are playing music that commercial radio isn’t playing.”

The Globe was an early champion of Umphrey’s McGee. Staffers will tell you the station was playing The Fray before The Fray was a big deal. Suffice it to say The Globe played Arcade Fire well before that band won the Grammy for Album of the Year a couple weeks ago.

“Here you hear a cut from a different cloth,” Kelly said. “You don’t really get that anywhere else except The Globe around this area. You won’t hear Mumford and Sons on any other radio station in this area, which is awesome.”

Such is The Globe circa 2011. However, Samuel views the station’s past as important.

“We don’t deny our history or heritage — that’s all a part of it,” Samuel said. “...No matter how big a tree gets, it can never deny its roots. For us to not embrace the history of what WGCS was and the work people put in before us, we would be losing out and we would be foolish. Because we would not understand how precious what we have today has become.”

Listening in

Art Logan has been a Globe listener for about a year.

“I was just down at that end of the dial,” the Elkhart resident said, when he happened upon WGCS. “I was intrigued, to say the least.”

Logan likes the fact that The Globe doesn’t play the same music over and over like commercial stations tend to do. He also views the station as an incubator of sorts for up-and-coming musicians.

Eric Kanagy of Goshen tunes in as well and feels The Globe speaks to the nature of Goshen and its art scene. For fans of independent music, he said, there are some big names that have been in Goshen and performed in the WGCS studio. Kanagy also views The Globe as another unique aspect of the city.

“It’s something,” Kanagy said, “you wouldn’t expect a city the size of Goshen to have.”

Natural progression

Handrich listened to the radio all the time with her dad when she was younger. Back then she thought music from the ’60s and ’70s was “new music” because that’s what she was hearing.

Handrich got a handheld cassette tape recorder as a present when she was around 7 years old, and decided to create her own radio station. She’d record ’60s and ’70s tunes off the radio, and interview her family about those songs. She did basketball play-by-plays of her dad’s church league.

Handrich forgot about the tapes until her mom found them a couple of years ago.

“I started my own radio station as a 7-year-old, forgot all about it, and here I am doing radio now,” she said. “... I should put it in my three-minute audition tape — ‘Listen to my progression ...’”

For the curious, Handrich picked “Sadie” by clicking on a name in a baby names database. Then she added “Kruise.” She’s been involved at The Globe since she was 16 years old.

“That summer, I was actually terrified to talk on the radio,” Handrich said. “I was this little shy girl and didn’t like talking, ever. When I started talking on the air, I noticed that it came really easy to me.”

The experience prompted her to study communications at GC and continue at 91.1.

Handrich said she’s still scared to talk in front of people. She also points out that she talks to thousands of people every day.

‘This is it’

The Globe takes requests. On a Tuesday afternoon, Andrew Witkowski takes a call.

“91.1 The Globe, this is Andrew” (pause) “Beatles ... we have (checks directory) ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ ‘Lady Madonna,’ ‘Octopus’s Garden’ ‘Nowhere Man,’ ‘Michelle’ and ‘If I Needed Someone.’”

The listener opts for “If I Needed Someone.” Witkowski says it will air in about five minutes. (pause) “All right, sweet,” he tells the caller. “Thanks for listening.”

Witkowski runs his show off requests.

“I want to play what the community wants to hear,” he said. “Once you have one request, the ball just starts rolling.”

Witkowski is a Concord High School graduate and a Goshen College freshman. He decided he wanted to be in radio when he was in high school. His grandfather was once a WSBT news anchor, and Witkowski was plugged into radio at a young age. Still, he didn’t quite know what to expect his first time on the air at The Globe.

“You get the blood rushing,” he recalled. “And you don’t know what to expect and then once you talk after the first time you stop ... you lean back ... you take that sigh of relief. And then it’s like natural.”

Since he’s been on the air, Witkowski said, he’s received feedback on how to improve. He said he wants to learn as much as he can.

“It’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Witkowski said of The Globe. “This is it, right here.”