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WMFO recording studio ready to roll

Published: Friday, October 15, 2010

Updated: Friday, October 15, 2010 07:10

The WMFO studio

Virginia Bledsoe / Tufts Daily

The WMFO studio provides students with recording space on campus.

Tufts' Christian a capella group Anchord will on Sunday start recording with WMFO Tufts Freeform Radio's new label, making them the first group to use the recently revamped Curtis Hall recording space this academic year, according to the label's executive co−director, sophomore Chris Smith.

Anchord is the first a capella group to record with the label, On the Side Records, and the third student group to record with the label since its inception last year, Smith said. Following an overhaul of the recording space last year, the radio station is beginning to expand its recording studio operations this year.

The updates to the studio better facilitate the recording of each instrument or vocal track separately, and then mixing and polishing the recordings in a process called multi−tracking, WMFO Facilities Director Jesse Weeks, a junior, said.

Anchord will record three songs this fall and three in the spring, according to senior Erin O'Donnell, Anchord's general manager. The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate allocated $1,200 to Anchord on Sept. 29 to record with On the Side, according to TCU Assistant Treasurer Christie Maciejewski.

Weeks said the recording process will be different with a cappella groups.

"We were thinking what would be the most cost−effective, easiest way to record, and WMFO has this great studio," O'Donnell said. "There's no commute, and it's supporting a group on campus."

WMFO launched On the Side last year, and recorded its first band, Action Guaranteed!, during the winter, according to Smith.

WMFO developed its recording capacity as a result of a more−than $31,000 TCU−funded overhaul of the station in Spring 2009.

The Senate's allocation came from the funds the body recovered in 2009 from the embezzlement within the former Office of Student Activities, now the Office for Campus Life. The station is expected to repay the Senate in $3,000 increments over a period of five years.

"The sentiment in [the Senate's Allocations Board] was if we gave them this recording element, it really had the potential to have an effect on campus because of all the students who would benefit from on−campus, cheaper recording," de Klerk, a junior, said. "It would have a domino effect on other groups."

WMFO general manager Andy Sayler said that even though the station has broadcast live bands on the air since its founding, it had previously been unable to capture professional−quality recordings.

"It wasn't until we did the upgrade that we were able to bring our equipment up to the point where we now have the capabilities to compete with a regular recording studio," Sayler, a senior, said.

On the Side charged bands $30 per hour to record last year but is in the process of determining new, cheaper rates for Tufts groups, according to Smith.

"We wanted a change, especially for Tufts bands, because a lot of students can't shell out $30 an hour to record," Smith said. He added that Anchord is paying the $30 rate.

The studio works with non−Tufts artists, too, utilizing a tiered−rate structure that differentiates pricing for groups versus individuals, and for Tufts versus non−Tufts acts, according to Sayler.

WMFO hopes to develop On the Side Records into a recording label that will produce some groups for a fee and others for free. The label would own the rights to the music produced for free, Sayler said.

"We wanted to take all this money we had received and use it to make the studio useful to the everyday Tufts student," Sayler said.

The station is in the process of expanding the business, including training more audio engineers, who are needed to run the studio for the extra steps involved in the new recording process, according to Smith. He added that On the Side is seeking bands to give the engineers recording practice.

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Brent Yarnell contributed reporting to this article.

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