Course Spotlight: Radio Free Henniker


The time is almost here to sign up for Fall 2021 classes. For Communication Studies majors, or anyone who has room for a fun, hands-on elective course, Radio Free Henniker is the course for you.

Radio Free Henniker meets from 2:30-3:40 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s listed as being in the Lyons building, but students will often find themselves headed over to the radio station.

For those who don’t know, New England College owns a radio station called 91.7 WNEC FM, which is located on the third floor of the Simon Center. According to their website, WNEC started as the New England College Radio Club in the mid-1960s and officially became an FCC-authorized station in 1971. Since then, WNEC has broadcasted a wide range of programming including student-run radio shows, faculty lectures, and educational programming. They have also hosted various concerts on campus over the years. Nowadays, the station broadcasts 24/7, 365 days a year and consists of mostly automated programming.

However, opportunities are plentiful at WNEC.

For any student interested in learning the ways of campus radio, Radio Free Henniker will help them do just that. Plenty of WNEC alumni have gone on to do successful radio or voiceover work. This includes Lindsay Collins, former President/CEO/Chief Engineer of multiple local radio stations, as well as Steve Zirnkilton, who provided the opening narration for Law and Order and performed voiceovers for various other shows, including Family Guy and Rugrats. Will you be the next hotshot radio star to graduate from NEC? Radio Free Henniker is an important first step in finding out.

The classic Law & Order intro by NEC’s own Steve Zirnkilton!

After taking Radio Free Henniker, you will have all the tools in your repertoire to run your own radio program. Though there will be a new professor teaching it this year, the curriculum will likely be similar to when I took the class. Students will learn about legal IDs, emergency alert systems, how to create effective programming, licensing, ratings, PSAs, and much more.

Each class of the semester is building up to the final project, which happens to be the best final I’ve ever taken at New England College. All of the skills you’ve acquired during the semester are put to the test as your final project consists of creating your very own two-hour radio show and broadcasting it live. You will need to make sure that you announce a legal station ID at the top of every hour, play two public service announcements at twenty-past and fourty-past the hour, create your own live commentary between every couple songs, eliminate “dead air,” make smooth transitions between the different parts of your programming and put your songs and PSAs into WNEC’s logbook.

Here’s what you’ll be using when you run your own radio show

Besides these basic requirements, this project is totally customizable and a lot of fun. You can play any genre of music you want as long as there are no curse words, (that’s an FCC violation) as you will quickly find out when you sign up for this class. You will need to plan out your two-hour program and time everything down to the minute, all the while making sure the soundboard and microphones are being properly utilized. It’s a bit of a delicate process and can be intimidating at first, but you will be a radio show master by the end.

It’s rewarding and the kind of class where you will have concrete examples of what you’ve learned. In my experience, my final fell around the holiday season. Naturally, this led me to put on a show with strictly Christmas music. In between songs, I played a Christmas trivia game for my listeners over the course of two hours and also had a list of fun facts about Christmas. I even had my family and friends tune in. It really was some of the most fun I’ve had in a class during my time at New England College.

So if you’re looking for a Communication Studies elective or a fun class to take, give Henniker Free Radio a try.

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Matthew McFall is a senior Communication Studies major minoring in Business Administration. He is from a small New Hampshire town called Henniker... Not sure if y'all have ever heard of it. Matthew previously attended the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to become a teaching professional, but returned to New England College in 2017. He hopes to work in higher education when he graduates from NEC this May. When he's not in school, Matthew may be found on a golf course or skiing at Pat's Peak. He also enjoys spending time with his family, his friends, and his lovely girlfriend of over six years.
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Dan Freese

Thanks for the article. I would like to add that you do not need to take the course (but please do!) to do a show. If you’re interested please send me an email to arrange a meeting and we will get you on the air.
Dan Freese