For the past three months I have worked for International Media Action (I.M.A.), a non-profit based out of Philadelphia. I.M.A.’s primary focus is to build communications infrastructure for small community groups around the world. Their engineer who does this work is Antioch alumnus Pete Tridish. Prior to working for International Media Action, Pete lobbied the United States congress with Prometheus Radio Project to prevent the possibility of corporate absorption of media outlets across the country, and to open up a portion of the FM spectrum to low power radio stations. The reason low power FM is important, is because it is affordable compared to high power radio stations like WYSO in Yellow Springs. The costs of starting a high powered radio station are prohibitively immense for small community groups, such as farm workers unions and black nationalist organizations that do not receive any major funding accept what their own members can provide.
Together, Pete and I worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Houston to build and do maintenance on low power stations. At first, I sometimes felt in the way. Because Pete builds all parts of the station, from production desk to erecting the radio tower, there are a lot of different construction techniques and areas of expertise that he employs regularly in his work. This naturally provided enormous opportunities for me to learn and understand these processes, but becoming a part of a process as large and complex as this one took time. Even by the end of my co-op, there were times when I felt as though I was not doing enough. However, in retrospect, I learned more than I ever could have imagined during these jobs. From planning and purchasing materials, to running romex through walls and wiring switches, to pouring and setting a radio tower into a 3 ft. by 4 ft. cylinder of concrete, to programming the automation systems, I realize now that I have enough knowledge to build a basic radio station myself. I know all the parts and pieces that go into it, and although there are a plethora of technical features to be learned, my knowledge base has been formed.
-Thomas Amrhein, ’20
For the past four years, I have been volunteering at our local NPR affiliate radio station, WYSO. I have worked closely with Juliet Fromholt on her show Kaleidoscope, and gone through the Community Voices training necessary to work on production commissions for the station. Now, through the Miller Fellow Program, I have been able to work for them full time. Much of my work has been been producing new segments for our Antioch-centered podcast, The Antioch Word. Check out our stories at: https://wyso.org/programs/antioch-word
In addition, I’ve been looking into efforts to increase connectivity between current students, curriculum and WYSO. Antioch has long had what it refers to as assets. These include Glen Helen, The Health and Wellness Center, the Antioch Farm, the kitchens, WYSO, and arguments could be made for more. As it currently stands, we are working to integrate these assets more fully into the curriculum. Additional access for students would allow for curriculum developments, new collaborations between various entities on and around campus, as well as development of the tight-knit college community Antioch aspires to be.
WYSO—with the support of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation Miller Fellow program, among others—is already doing much of this, with their incredibly busy staff carving out time to teach and host events for students that want to get involved with them. They value their connections with the students and college, but cannot always accommodate the level of interest and new ideas while simultaneously running a 50,000 Watt radio station.
A large component of my job is to look into how we can improve student-WYSO connections, and create an environment that encourages students to get involved with broadcast journalism, all the while not putting too much strain on WYSO’s staff. So far, it has been a great learning curve. I look forward to see how more initiatives and students carry this further in the future.
The Antioch Word: https://wyso.org/programs/antioch-word