KSPB 91.9 FM continues to air student shows, now recorded at home while sheltering in place

Every Tuesday evening from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. since the beginning of the school year, Gunner McCormick ’20 and Ethan White ’20 have been meeting at the KSPB radio station across from Douglas Hall to do their live, hour-long radio show, The Feel. The seniors, called DJ G-Mac and DJ E-Dubs on air, have been students of radio since they were freshman at Stevenson, so they’re adept at hosting live shows from the station: they’ve memorized the FCC rules, they know when and how to artfully fade in and out of songs, and they can judge how much banter is the right amount. But this week, for the very first time, The Feel won’t be live: the boys, under a shelter-in-place order from California governor Gavin Newsom, recorded the show from their parents’ houses—Gunner in Santa Barbara and Ethan in Pleasanton. 

“I’ve had experience pre-recording shows when I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the live session, but never outside of the studio,” Gunner says. “And it certainly felt really weird not being able to see Ethan while we were recording this week. But we were able to make it work.”

The Feel is one of 17 student shows that play weekly on KSPB’s roster, which is otherwise filled out with content from the BBC. KSPB, a 1000-watt station launched by students at Stevenson in 1978, can be picked up on radio waves at 91.9 FM from Gilroy to Santa Cruz to Big Sur. “It’s the most powerful student-run, high school radio station in the country,” says Joel Fricker, who teaches Stevenson’s intro and advanced radio classes. He adds, “It’s also one of the only stations—most high school stations have been handed over to universities or other owners.”

The Feel is 75 percent punk, country, hip-hop, and pop music, and 25 percent conversation between the seniors about what’s going on in their worlds that week. “Like, we had a debate about whether it’s okay to eat chicken for Thanksgiving dinner,” Gunner says, “or whether it has to be turkey. And we had another discussion about whether 2020 marked the start of a new decade, or whether it was actually the last year of this decade. But, yeah, it’s mostly, like, funnier, light-hearted discussions.” 

This week’s show, the first since students were sent home, focuses on how the pandemic is impacting the boys, including notes about live, online classes, which both students say are going well. 

“Having to get up and get dressed and that kind of stuff mimics school,” Ethan says. “My sister’s middle school right now, they just have all the teachers throw up a video and then have a couple of practice assignments. But I like our system better; I mean, being able to see my classmates and my friends is a big bonus. Also, I think it’s better being able to interact with the teachers and ask them questions and ask them for help. Live is a lot better than having to email them questions.”

There aren’t stats on how many people listen to The Feel when it’s airing live, but the boys know for sure that they have an audience of at least three: Gunner’s mom and his grandparents. “Gunner’s mom texts me and him song suggestions sometimes,” Ethan says and laughs. “Or she texts her opinion on a topic that we’re talking about. During the Thanksgiving debate, Gunner’s mom texts me and says, ‘Chicken’s better,’ and then she sent me a funny meme on that.” 

Asked if the pandemic will change the music he chooses for The Feel, Gunner says, “I don’t think it’s going to change the songs I choose. But I do feel like it’s going to be a frequent topic of discussion. Because, really, when I’ve been in my house, it’s never left my mind. So I feel like it’s impossible to avoid talking about it.”

Ethan was looking forward to doing live shows with Gunner through May—he thought of The Feel as “one of his last cool projects” before graduating. So now he’s adjusting to what could likely be a remote experience through the rest of the school year. “It’s a different way of doing it,” he says. “It’s a new experience. It’s not the same, but it’ll still be good.”

Gunner agrees. “I’m really excited for our show.” 

You can listen to this week’s The Feel on the KSPB website.

– Trish Deitch