Plattsburgh, NY – With its future up in the air, WQKE, the student-run radio station at SUNY Plattsburgh, is rebranding itself as a multimedia production company.
WQKE President Garrett Jones said the station was notified late last month that the college’s Office of Greek Life would be moving to the station’s offices, leading to fears that the station was on the verge of being shut down.
“I felt like I was alone, and then 24 hours later a bunch of people rallied,” said Jones.
Jones and a group of students met with school officials recently with a plan to keep WQKE alive by rebranding it Quake Productions.
“We focus on more than just radio,” said Quake Productions Executive Producer Melissa Forte. “We look into podcasting. We look into video production. We’re even trying to do live events and PR, so we’re encapsulating more fields of production. Not just radio.”
The university was looking into cutting WQKE due to a lack of interest from students. Colleges across the nation have been moving away from student-run radio as the audience flocks to streaming platforms.
Dr. Kiersten Isgro, chair of the SUNY Plattsburgh Communications Department, said the cost of operating student-run radio may be unsustainable.
“The FCC license is expensive,” Isgro said. “It’s a liability and it’s a cost that a lot of campuses just can’t continue, especially with low enrollments around the country.
SUNY Plattsburgh TV Studio Manager/Engineer Bruce Carlin said the university has few options.
“There’s no doubt about it that streaming radio has certainly taken a bite out of a lot of broadcast listening and the fact that there is no FM license,” he said.
But Jones and Forte are confident Quake Productions can keep up with the changing times.
“What we want to do is make sure that we’re accessible to students across campus and that we’re reaching out to underserved and marginalized communities,” said Forte.
“Our goal is to have Plattsburgh become the hub for people who want to get into communication majors and learn as much as they can because Quake Productions is going to incorporate all of that,” said Jones.