WVUM 90.5 FM, the University of Miami’s student-run radio station, has operated out of an office and two studios on the bottom floor of the Whitten University Center since 1999. Over the summer, hundreds of CDs were packed up, funky stickers were peeled off the walls and the WVUM office was renovated.
The plan to update the office was made around May 2015, when WVUM general manager Kunal Chohan sat down with Steven Priepke, associate dean of students, director of Greek life and financial manager for student media.
The work started the first week of July and ended with furniture installation on Aug. 20, according to Priepke. Over the summer, workers stripped the aged carpet, repainted the walls, fixed damaged windowpanes and installed a new lighting system.
“Student Affairs leadership and the university planner, architect and designers have done a great job making the University Center and other areas of campus more green, modern and most importantly, much more student community-friendly,” Priepke said.
The space was student-friendly but cramped before renovations, to say the least. According to Chohan, hosting up to six staffs in one small office with a plethora of knick-knacks lining the walls made the WVUM staff feel too confined at times.
“The old office was very quaint and kitschy, but it was kind of claustrophobic almost,” said Chohan, a senior philosophy major.
Fifth-year architecture student and WVUM staffer Gabriela Degwitz helped create a mock-up of what the renovated office would look like.
“I like that this is bigger and open. I feel like it’s easier for ideas to flow,” Chohan said.
However, WVUM is still in the process of moving everything back in – the trinkets, indie albums and iconic Red Bull refrigerator – and Chohan said the space is uncharacteristically bare until then, describing it as a “doctor’s office.”
“We had a fat, old TV and a GameCube,” he said. “Basically, the rest of the university is undergoing such a big makeover right now and we were living in ’95 … so it was time for us to get ourselves up to the University of Miami standard.”
Office manager Chris Palowitch, a senior in the music engineering program, sat on the sole piece of built furniture in the office at 8 p.m. Monday night. His easy demeanor and amusing conversation with other staffers captured the welcoming atmosphere that the station’s open door indicates. Palowitch said he was initially nervous to approach WVUM, but his misgivings were dismissed soon after joining.
“You don’t have to be an on-air DJ. Everyone sounds good on the radio [and] the same people hang out in the office all the time because once you hang out there you never want to leave,” he said.
WVUM is open to any currently enrolled UM student, and Chohan and Palowitch share a more-the-merrier outlook on students interested in joining. Given the six staffs, from public relations to sports casting, there is a spot for anyone at WVUM, according to Chohan.
“There’s such an incredible pool of talent at WVUM, and a really diverse one, too … Any kind of person can get involved and also, if you work hard, we give you free concert tickets,” he said.
There will be an office warming party on Sept. 9 from 3-6 p.m. with food, music, free CDS and – in true WVUM form – a Nintendo 64.
For more information on joining WVUM, email Chris Palowitch at firstname.lastname@example.org.