Every school needs a way to give a voice to its students. Colleges and universities are places where prospective leaders, dreamers, and future teachers go for guidance. College students learn not only from their professors, but also from each other. Fostering community at a college through media enables the spread of new and insightful ideas. Rocky Beats, a student-run campus radio station, not only fosters music appreciation for the college, but also provides a much needed voice for RMC students.
Rocky Beats was launched in the fall of 2015. There are two parts of Rocky Beats: the radio station, on 104.5 KVRM, and the music appreciation club. The station is a low powered FM station that can operate at 100 watts, which provides three to five miles of broadcasting coverage. RMC senior Alex Orokotan, leader and creator of Rocky Beats, said the idea for a campus radio station came about through a late-night discussion with friends. “We got tired of how Billings, and RMC in particular, had no culture. People tended to easily ‘clique up’ and it seemed like a lot of people just weren’t happy,” he said. Orokotan explained that Rocky Beats is committed to making their club and radio station a place where everyone is accepted, innovation is valued, and where collaboration takes place.
Although Orokotan faced several challenges when trying to get the radio station up and running, the faculty and other students supported the innovative idea. “We wanted to start a club where people could just come in, jam, and show who they really are without judgment,” Orokotan stated, “and slowly Rocky Beats became something bigger than just an idea.”
With funding support from the Associated Students of Rocky Mountain College (ASRMC) and equipment and monetary donations from donors and the RMC IT department, Orokotan and his crew were able to begin the process of creating a campus radio station. Because the IT department had already been working on the idea of a radio station, they had the tools, licensing, and other resources that were necessary for such a large project. “When we heard of [IT’s project], I pitched the idea of the club to them and they gave us the station,” said Orokotan.
RMC student and Rocky Beats member Megan Gildehaus feels that the new radio station is a great way to learn about the different aspects of music. “Since my freshman year of high school, I loved writing music and I taught myself how to record, produce, and mix my own tunes,” she stated. “I am really excited about the radio/talk show piece. It’s great getting some of my tunes playing on our station, and I am especially excited about the DJ software. As a musician, it’s just super cool to be surrounded with other people who love and contribute to music in various ways.”
Rocky Beats values diversity, and the station’s vision is to have weekly radio talk shows, debates, and interviews. RMC sophomore Jack Jennaway is focused on programming. “To be completely honest, my interest in music is pretty small compared to everyone else’s,” he said. “That’s why my focus is on talk radio programs. I like my entertainment to be intellectually stimulating, challenging, and informative.”
To date, Rocky Beats has already interviewed several local artists, entrepreneurs, producers, and lyricists. Recently, Rocky Beats launched their website, which is a 24/7 live stream of the radio station, and more fun features will be added soon. The site where you can listen to Rocky Beats online is kvrm.rocky.