By Max Sullivan, Contributing Writer
A new partnership between a Durham radio station and a café around the corner from it brings new opportunity to the college town, both for musicians who want airplay, and the cause that the Freedom Café supports.
Last week, WUNH and the Freedom Café of Durham confirmed a new collaboration, one that allows the café to advertise through the radio station on campus and might even lead to a live broadcast of its Wednesday night open mics on the college station’s airwaves.
The café, open since 2013, is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking. All proceeds go to the cause. The café’s workers donate at least two hours a week.
Hadley Barndollar, WUNH’s director of promotions, initiated the partnership when she took over her position earlier this year. She had become interested in human trafficking in her spring semester when she did a project on the media’s coverage of the crime. To her, a connection with a music venue dedicated to ending trafficking seemed like an obvious opportunity to benefit both parties.
“We basically want to collaborate on events that benefit both organizations and bring the music back to a local level,” Barndollar said. “With this goal in mind, we’ve designed monthly theme-specific open mics, which WUNH is hoping to broadcast live on air.”
The collaboration allows the Freedom Café to advertise on campus, something student organizations are permitted to do.
Bryan Bessette, managing director at the Freedom Café, said reaching the student population in Durham will make a huge difference for the café.
“Certainly, the campus is one of the primary reasons we exist,” Bessette said, acknowledging the importance of reaching out to the UNH campus. “We could not exist without students volunteering to be baristas. That’s really how we are able to exist. If we didn’t have volunteers, we couldn’t do it.”
But if the partnership goes where WUNH hopes it will, the collaboration also offers a unique opportunity for local musicians, both the up-and-coming and the established.
For new musicians who might not have the means to record an album to be played on WUNH, the broadcast would offer a chance for their original material to be heard on the radio.
“I think that gives a lot of people an opportunity which they wouldn’t otherwise get, and I think it’s nice for people to have that,” said Alexandra Marceau, a UNH student who works at WUNH. “Especially if they don’t have the means to record or get an MP3 out or send to people, so I think that’s really great that people get to have that opportunity.”
For those artists who have already developed a following, it provides an even easier way to reach fans their audiences.
Ian Sleeper, guitarist of the Durham-based band Heads & Tales, said he enjoys live radio performances.
“One of the coolest things you can often find artists doing is playing in radio settings,” Sleeper said. “I think having it done at an open mic, it would be interesting to hear someone’s material in kind of a less-formal setting, it gives that opportunity to get a more intimate feel for the band.”
WUNH has had trouble in the past with its Wi-Fi connection while broadcasting away from the station. Last Saturday, it tried to broadcast live coverage of the UNH football game, but the Wi-Fi connection was lost after the first quarter.
Barndollar said she hopes this can be fixed in time for the targeted open mic date, Wednesday, Oct. 29.
In addition to the plan to broadcast the open mic, Barndollar said WUNH intends to run a competition held at the café in which the winner gets a chance to play live at the station’s studio in the Memorial Union Buildling.
“We have many great ideas in the making for the partnership this year,” Barndollar said. “These are two very creative, accessible organizations right in Durham that were meant to find each other.”