Durham College’s Riot Radio has opened back for the fall semester on campus, after being forced to close its doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Station manager Dan MacInally, 38, has been adjusting to the new protocols put in place by the college. The changes include a new plexiglass barrier between the studio technician and show, only two hosts are allowed in the studio at a time, and everyone must wear a mask.
“They are not allowed to leave the studio during their show, we have disposable mic covers that we’re putting on for each show. As soon as each show is done, we take them off,” says MacInally.
“It’s better than being at home,” adds MacInally, who has been working remotely since March, 2020.
Due to the campus closure, Riot had to reduce the number of shows because of a lack of volunteers, says MacInally.
“It’s a lot harder to stay in touch with students,” says MacInally.
Prior to COVID-19, Riot Radio ran a full slate of programming during the day. However, the pandemic put an end to that.
Now, Riot offers about 10 programs a week.
Historically, Riot staff would try to recruit volunteers during Orientation Week, when students get involved with various activities on campus.
The number of volunteers doing shows is less than previous years but MacInally says as more students come back to campus, he hopes that will change.
During the pandemic, most work was done remotely over Zoom. The overall process worked more slowly.
“Everything just took a lot longer having to have a Zoom call, sending text messages, downloading files, uploading files, converting files, so a lot longer to do stuff,” says MacInally.
“Whereas in a studio, we were able to do seven or eight live shows a day and the shows were recorded and they automatically uploaded to our platform for students to watch later.”
The last day of in-studio broadcast was March 12, 2020, a day after the World Health Organization announced the spread of COVID-19 had resulted in a pandemic.
Oddly enough, the last show to be broadcast was Nerdly; a show by broadcast student Bobby Morrison, 20. After not being in the campus’ studio for nearly two years, the first show back was again, Morrison’s Nerdly.
“It’s nice because it’s like people are coming back to the campus and life throughout is starting again in this weird way,” says Morrison.
“But you know, I like seeing the students walk by because I know that I’m not the only one here Friday 9 a.m. alone. I have other people who are listening and, you know, they stopped. So it’s one of those things where it’s nice because you can see, like I said, people are coming back and things are starting up again and it’s getting better.”
With campus life returning to some normalcy, the manager is excited.
“I love being at home, but there’s a fine line between too much and not enough,” says MacInally.
“It’s great having a routine back and being in the office with [co-workers]. It’s great to, like we talked every day for the last year-and-a half whether it was through text message or Messenger or on Zoom, but it’s a lot different being together in person and you don’t have that weird ‘like, I can’t get up and talk to you’ or also not on the camera or the mic.”
To book shows for Riot Radio, go to mydcsa.ca or riotradio.ca and fill out the form provided.