KLPI hosts Vinylthon

By Jackson Bain

KLPI 89.1 FM, Louisiana Tech’s campus radio station, wrapped up its annual participation in Vinylthon recently, a charity event held nationwide where stations play nothing but vinyl records for 24 hours or more.

It’s put on by the College Radio Society, an organization that awards scholarships to college students who want to work in radio. Over 170 stations across the United States and the world participate in the event each year, KLPI being the only station in Louisiana to do so.

“This year was special because this year was a full 72 hour event,” said Evan Gross, a senior KLPI DJ. “(For 72 hours) we don’t play any CDs. We don’t play anything off of a computer. We don’t play anything off of our phones or anything like that. All of the music is played only off of vinyl records live on air. Nothing is pre-recorded. It is just a DJ live in the studio, dropping a needle on a vinyl record.”

KLPI members can reserve time slots to do a DJ show during the 72-hour event. Most bring their own vinyl records; in fact many often play records on their own weekly shows outside of Vinylthon. It’s all part of a vinyl comeback that has been sweeping the music world in recent years. Vinyl has been the best-selling physical music format for the last three years, first out-selling CDs in 2020.

 The non-assigned time slots are filled by the “ride-or-dies” who stay there for the whole event, always ready to jump into the booth. This is what many of the members said they love about the event: hanging out in the station, eating, sleeping and goofing around with friends.

“So we’re in here a long time… I was live from midnight to 9 a.m. at one point.” said Gross. “Camping out in the station for Vinylthon is, it’s almost like having a sleepover at your friend’s house. You just get to hang out with all of your friends for an extended period of time. If you’re not live, it means you’re just sitting here and you get to listen to whoever else is live. Talk to your friends in the station, while your friend in the studio is playing records. It’s just a fun situation to trade out with people.”

Tyler Walker, a DJ, participated in Vinylthon for the first time.

“Being a ride-or-die was very exhausting,” Walker said. “I stayed awake as much as I could so I could be there to help things run smoothly. My time in the booth was pretty fun actually. Most people got stressed out because of the constant attention the records needed, but once I got into the groove (pun intended) time flew by for me.”

Vinylthon is a big deal for the members of the station, and something they prepare for all year. One thing they do is “Kennel Dives,” which is where they go to their storage area where the thousands of records KLPI has accumulated over its nearly 60 years of existence are stored. There they search for interesting records to broadcast across the airwaves during the annual event. It’s also a big deal for recent alumni, some of whom come back every year for the event.

“Last year (in) 2022 we did the full 24 hours for the first time and it was an amazing experience for everyone involved and it’s kind of become like a legend to those alumni who have passed on from that year or those of us who are still around and we aimed to make this past year 2023 an incredible experience and I feel it definitely lived up to the hype,” Gross said.

KLPI doesn’t just participate in Vinylthon. For over 60 years, the campus radio station has strived to be “Ruston’s Rock Alternative” and plans to continue that legacy and the medium of radio into the future.

“I think a lot of people kind of miss out on what KLPI is,” Gross added. “A lot of people look at KLPI and just see a radio station where people just play whatever music they want and that is a part of it, sure. But we’re playing music for fun. We invite people to listen and have fun with us. We want to engage with our listeners and our main audience is supposed to be students here at Louisiana Tech. Sure, our music taste might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but we’re still on air to have fun. We still have jokes and gags on air. We play music.

“We try to have a fun environment, but if the music isn’t what you’re here for, we still have DJs with a lot of personality and vinyl is really kind of where we let that shine. Vinylthon is when we get everyone together, get sleep deprived and kind of fall into that loop of just giggling cause you’re so tired and getting everyone around and just having fun playing whatever fun records we found.”

Individuals can listen to KLPI on 89.1 FM or through the RadioFX app where a schedule of DJ specialty shows playing a variety of music genres can also be found.