Drew Tompkins: Rebuilding WRCU after COVID-19


For many Colgate University students, it can be difficult to find a place where they can express themselves. Senior and chemistry concentrator Drew Tompkins, however, lucked out and found his calling at WRCU FM 90.1, Colgate’s radio station. When he was a first-year, Tompkins intended to go on the most popular pre-orientation program among incoming first-years, Outdoor Education’s Wilderness Adventure but switched last minute to WRCU.

When asked what made him stick with WRCU beyond pre-orientation, Tompkins described the people involved with the radio station as a primary factor.

“I love music, and I cared about the station; it was a good place to be,” Tompkins said. “There are a lot of great people in the station and I wanted to be like them. I saw people that I thought were working really hard, which I thought was kind of interesting. I fell into the role of caring about the station and wanting to make it the best it could be.”

Since pre-orientation, Tompkins has worked with WRCU for the entirety of his time as a Colgate student. Leading multiple radio shows, serving as General Manager for the 2022 calendar year, and prior to that as Music Director, Tompkins has taken on many roles within WRCU. Now, to finish out his final semester, Tompkins advises the board and runs his current concept radio show, Core.

However, Tompkins’ experience at WRCU was not always smooth sailing. As was the case with many other extracurriculars on campus, COVID-19 debilitated WRCU.

“The end result was that they truncated the schedule down from 14 hours to 10,” Tompkins said. “Then people continued to drop out of their shows mid-semester and so [the schedule] was kind of empty. We also weren’t allowed into the station, which was obviously a very, very big part of our lives. It was also all remote broadcasting which was not great. Everyone recorded on their laptops, which made co-hosting [shows] a little difficult.”

Emerging from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tompkins played an instrumental role in building the radio station back up to what it once was. 

“I think Colgate had kind of forgotten that WRCU exists, so we’re trying to make them remember,” Tompkins explained. “Radio in general has kind of fallen; it’s not the medium it was 30 years ago. So we’re just trying to get people interested again. We refilled the schedule for the first time in five or six years, so that’s been a huge thing and a whole board effort. We’re also trying to cultivate the community and WRCU. We now have 150-plus DJs.” 

Another huge part of Tompkins’ experience leading WRCU has been lightening up the atmosphere at the station and trying to provide a space to unite people interested in music and radio.

“Making DJing fun has been a priority, which ties into helping community building. There were some changes to training that I made because training used to be at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and it was very rigorous. We’ve been slowly progressing towards training that is still teaching the correct things but does a better job of emphasizing the fun parts about radio,” Tompkins said. “It can be hard to get people on the same page because not all DJs are interested in being a radio type of person, necessarily, but we try to get the people who are to have some fun and hang out together.”

To hear more from Tompkins, be sure to tune into his radio show, Core, which airs live at 3 p.m. every Friday.