After 68 Years, KSPC Continues to Highlight Vibrant 麻豆影视 Voices

Lottie Malkmus '27 at a radio soundboard

It鈥檚 five minutes to 4 p.m. on a recent Tuesday and Lottie Malkmus 鈥27 enters Room 111H in the basement of Thatcher Music Building holding a stack of CDs and vinyl records.

For the past hour, the 麻豆影视 first-year student by way of Portland, Oregon, has been mining KSPC鈥檚 expansive music library for two hours鈥 worth of songs to match the psychedelic mood she鈥檚 in following her pair of Tuesday classes.

At 4 p.m., with Abunai!鈥檚 2003 song 鈥淭wo Brothers鈥 in the Spinitron queue, Malkmus welcomes 88.7 FM listeners to 鈥渙ff-road with Leroy the Poet.鈥

碍厂笔颁鈥斺攈as given Claremont Colleges students such as Malkmus the platform and freedom to explore the intricacies of DJing for 68 years, making it unique in its objective and longevity.

鈥淐ollege radio is super awesome, and I鈥檝e spoken with so many adults and musicians I really respect who mention how it changed their lives,鈥 Malkmus says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a creative outlet that is unique to universities and at the intersection of creating art and analyzing art.鈥

鈥淚 love it.鈥

Nearly seven decades after first hitting FM airwaves, KSPC is seeing a wave of student involvement. No fewer than five dozen personalities鈥攊ncluding alumni and faculty鈥攈ave weekly shows, with tastes in music ranging from reggae to electronic to polka.

KSPC runs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day under the helm of Pomona鈥檚 Director of Student Media Erica Tyron SC 鈥92 and diA Hakinna, the station鈥檚 full-time administrative assistant.

Together, the two bind KSPC鈥檚 past to its future.

鈥淲e鈥檝e got people who鈥檝e been listening to the station for decades鈥攁nd not just in Claremont,鈥 Tyron says. 鈥淚n lockdown, people really, really appreciated that we kept it going. Having been on the air as long as KSPC has, there鈥檚 a longstanding reputation and status in the community.鈥

Running the show

DJ Comet was supposed to be a placeholder name until Anaelle Roc 鈥24 found another.

But the moniker鈥攁 play on her last name and her love of space鈥攆it perfectly at the space-themed radio station that celebrated 68 years on FM airwaves Feb. 12. (KSPC was preceded at Pomona by KPCR, the pre-FM, carrier current station.)

Pomona classmate Emily Gibbons 鈥24 christened herself DJ Moon in the same vein.

Roc and Gibbons represent a senior class whose introduction to college came via Zoom during the early months of the pandemic.

While remote in 2020, Gibbons worked as a music director at KSPC, reviewing albums and music. Roc, who hails from Long Island, NY, became a production director, learning how to edit shows and write promotions and community messages.

Once on campus as sophomores, KSPC鈥檚 secluded headquarters awed them both.

鈥淚 loved exploring the station,鈥 Gibbons recalls. 鈥淚t鈥檚 still one of my favorite things to do.鈥

鈥淭he space is a time capsule,鈥 Roc adds. 鈥淭here are posters there from the 鈥80s, photos there from the 鈥50s when it became an FM station. I was instantly hooked.鈥

Indeed, concert and band posters adorn the KSPC walls; stickers a refrigerator in the lobby.

Each piece of physical media has at least one annotation left by a DJ informing the next of their opinion on certain tracks. We鈥檙e talking generations of debate on thousands of CDs and vinyl records.

As the music librarian, Malkmus keeps the place tidy, often pausing to read the arguments between past DJs. She would be lying if she said she hasn鈥檛 thought of a DJ years from now reading her thoughts on Spoon鈥檚 1997 release 鈥淪oft Effects 鈥 EP鈥 or Liturgy鈥檚 2023 record 鈥93696,鈥 which she has queued up to play next on 鈥渙ff-road.鈥

鈥淧eople ask, 鈥榃hy do radio? Radio is dead,鈥欌 Roc says. 鈥淲e have Spotify, the internet, AI DJs who can find you the perfect song. But people are really attracted to the space. It鈥檚 a beautiful space with all this history. We want to be part of that legacy.鈥

While Malkmus still has three years at KSPC to hone her skills, Gibbons and Roc are wrapping up their time on air.

Gibbons, a philosophy major and host of 鈥淚n the Clouds with DJ Moon,鈥 plans on attending law school after Pomona with dreams of becoming a lawyer for a band or music label.

鈥淚 would love to get involved in the radio station of whatever law school I go to if they would have me,鈥 she says.

Roc, meanwhile, is so invested in mastering the craft she says she only applied to graduate programs in astrophysics with established radio programs either on campus or in the community.

鈥淟ive music is something I can鈥檛 live without,鈥 the physics major and host of 鈥渃athartic destruction鈥 says. 鈥淚鈥檓 tied on a soul level to radio now.鈥

Lasting legacy

Pomona alumni often tell Tyron that working at KSPC was one of the best things they did while in college, and Tyron鈥攚ho also holds dear her time working at the station as an undergraduate at Scripps College鈥攈as a few theories why that is.

鈥淚t was a space where they could be creative,鈥 she posits. 鈥淢aybe they met some of their best friends here. Music ties people to certain memories of their life, and this being the space they were in when they were students, I鈥檓 sure KSPC brings back a lot of memories for them.鈥

鈥淚t just feels comfortable.鈥

Whatever the reason, KSPC holds a special place in the hearts of all who pass through the station and tune in daily.

Just the other week, at a conference in San Diego for undergraduate women in physics, Roc met longtime listeners who told her they wanted to meet DJ Comet鈥攗naware their favorite spinstress was the young woman they were talking to.

鈥淢usic just has a way of keeping people company,鈥 Tyron says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a sort of social tool, a social mechanism for people to find commonality and just have a good time.鈥

Far from complete, KSPC鈥檚 legacy is being a haven for 鈥減eople who aren鈥檛 the center of the pack, who don鈥檛 have anywhere to fit in at school,鈥 Gibbons says. 鈥淜SPC is providing a community and a space for people to talk about music where they probably wouldn鈥檛 have been able to otherwise.鈥

After four years talking music, activism and all things space as DJ Comet, Roc will sign off at the end of the semester and listen from afar as the next generation of voices sign on at KSPC.

鈥淚鈥檝e found a great community,鈥 Roc says. 鈥淭he people, on principle, we have each other鈥檚 backs. It doesn鈥檛 matter if I know you well or where you come from, at the station, you鈥檙e a part of this family. KSPC has been a very open, inviting space鈥攁 portal between worlds.鈥

鈥淎 node for all the different, disparate parts and people of my life.鈥

A screening of "35000 Watts: The Story of College Radio" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Rose Hills Theatre & Lobby. A Q&A featuring former and current KSPC DJs and others will follow.