Broadcast or Bust: Opportunities at Radio Free Hillsdale

Written by Jenny Wiland

Nestled in a half-hidden corner of the Knorr Center is a small room with two desks, a computer, and a variety of oddities. Microphones rest above a soundboard, trophies line a shelf on the back wall, and a few colorful posters hang in black frames. Two students sit at a desk, one speaking enthusiastically into a microphone while another dutifully concentrates on the sound equipment.

This is the home of Hillsdale College’s own radio station: WRFH, Radio Free Hillsdale. And these students are Conner Bolanos ’23 and Kendall Doer ’23 recording the most recent episode of their podcast, “History Shouldn’t Be a Mystery.” Each episode gives a basic outline of a European historical figure, analyzing the person’s early life in addition to significant accomplishments and failures. The show often focuses on obscure figures, or on parts of the person’s life that most people have never heard about. This particular episode was about Matthias Corvinus, who was elected King of Hungary in 1458, when he was fourteen years old, to avoid a civil war.

Radio Free Hillsdale has given both of these freshmen the opportunity to pursue their passion and share it with others. Conner, the show’s host, came in with some broadcasting experience from his high school’s radio station. When he heard about Radio Free Hillsdale, he jumped at the opportunity to combine his two favorite things: history and talking. “I get to explore a bit more about people that I don’t necessarily know all that much about, and then I get to share that with others,” he says.

Kendall, the show’s producer, isn’t as much of a history geek, but he enjoys the technical aspects of broadcasting. “I used to listen to a lot of talk radio with my dad, and I always just thought it would be fascinating to produce something,” he says. “So, when Conner said, ‘Hey, I think I want to make a show,’ I was like, ‘Great! I’ll produce it!’”

Even for students with no broadcasting experience, it’s easy to start a show through Radio Free Hillsdale by talking to Scot Bertram, the station’s general manager. “Even if the idea isn’t perfect, you just have a rough outline or sketch, there’s people who can help you out with that. That’s the whole point of the radio station here at Hillsdale—they help you out,” Conner says. “If you have something you’re passionate about, and something you really want to share with other people, go for it!”

Click to Listen to Radio Free Hillsdale

Jenny Wiland, ’23, plans to study psychology and graphic design. She loves her cat, dark chocolate, and writing stories, especially science fiction and fantasy.

Published in March 2020

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