After a burst pipe in Campus Center caused serious water damage to the WCWM 90.9 FM radio station last summer, the station has finally been repaired and restored. While other facilities in the basement of Campus Center were quickly cleaned by the College of William and Mary after the water damage, the radio station sat uncleaned for months.
This neglect allowed massive amounts of mold and rot to occur in the various rooms of the station. The damage spread through the entirety of the station, compounded by seasonal humidity. Because of the mold, the radio station was shut down in September due to health concerns.
Some of the radio station’s most valuable equipment and facilities took the brunt of the water damage. The soundproofing in the live performance booth, which cost thousands of dollars to install, was irreparably damaged, and the furniture in the lobby of the station was completely ruined. Worst of all, the station’s gigantic catalogue of vinyl records, 45s and CDs was greatly harmed by the water.
With one of the largest collections of vinyl records in the eastern half of the country, the loss of the collection would have had a negative effect on the culture of the station.
“This collection is a way for us to connect to our roots in radio and establish our identity,” WCWM President Varvara Troitski ’20 said.
The possibility of this loss was made even more tangible by the initial refusal of the College to fund the cleaning of the collection. Due to the water damage and neglect from the College, WCWM was unable to broadcast their shows, had already lost a major part of the station, and was coming dangerously close to losing much of the library it had curated over several decades.
Fortunately, Media Council funding allowed WCWM to begin the process of having the records cleaned. The ceiling tiles were replaced. New furniture was brought in to replace that which had been damaged. All soundproofing material in the live performance room was removed. The station became operational once again through months of effort from the members of WCWM and the College staff.
The station began to broadcast as WCWM waited for their collection to return from cleaning, but the wait was not an easy one.
“Frankly, it was just kind of sad being in a studio devoid of records,” David Lefkowitz ’22 said.
Luckily for the station, the collection soon returned. Now, dozens of boxes arrive at the station every day filled with the refurbished library of vinyls and CDs, and the process has transitioned from repairing the station to cataloguing the collection once again.
“This semester we hit the ground running and have almost all the CDs back on the shelves,” Troitski said.
Meanwhile, WCWM has returned to its normal broadcast schedule. New hosts such as Trevor Schneider ’22 are already beginning training.
“I am trying to get certified this semester. [WCWM] is a great group that I want to be a bigger part of,” Schneider said.
To continue the success of repairing the station, WCWM has booked Mitski, a Japanese-American singer-songwriter to perform on campus March 23. As Troitski continues her leadership of the station, she hopes to continue her work of updating and growing the station.