By this time, you should be about done listening to Pandora ads and "Sorry" covers. Enter WXPN with the best music you will never find on your own. Read about how they do it all, and the Penn students who get to see it first hand.
What the heck is it:
WXPN is a radio station that was founded in 1975. It used to be a Penn owned station, run by Penn students, until it became independent because of required radio censorship laws. Bye! Penn students work there for work–study and internships, as well as Drexel, Temple and St. Joe's students. Penn still has a student–run radio station called WQHS, but is exclusively controlled by Penn students and is located on campus.
Why is it important to read about right now?
Remember that time you were like, “I literally have no new music,” and your friend was like , Same, I only listen to 'The Middle' on repeat.” Well, WXPN plays all the newest local artists as well as independent artists who are not being played on the “Top 40” but are still dope as hell. They’re known for indie rock, alternative rock, alternative folk music and alternative country. “Do I have to be mega alt to listen to WXPN?” you may ask. No, you do not, my friend. You just have to be in the market for a killer study playlist and a break from “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” remixes.
Where do I go to listen to it?
The Radio! Just kidding, that’s social suicide. WXPN has a “listen live” button on their website,as well as an app. They have set lists going all day and no advertisements besides a few words about the donors who keep the radio station funded. Tune in for “Funky Friday,” just in case your Friday isn't funky enough.
Why is WXPN better than the recent "Acoustic Feels" playlist I found on Spotify?
Let me count the ways. First of all, remember when you thought you found Adele first? You didn’t. WXPN did. They’ve tapped into artists like Adele, Sam Smith, Hozier and other bomb–ass singers before their songs turned into house music remixes on SoundCloud. They have unbelievable sensors out for the up and coming artists, both local and independent. The office is full of CDs people send the station, begging to get aired. But back to Adele. WXPN was the first one to recommend her to World Café before she became the emblem of talent—that’s actually a really big deal.
Photo credit: Mel Curley (C'17)
World Café? Is that an artsy Starbucks?
Nope. It’s a live concert arena for up–and–coming artists. WXPN recommends artists to the venue and a lucky artist plays there every Friday for FREE. This is known as “Free Concert Friday” or "Free at Noon" , and it's at 3025 Walnut—upwards to 700 people attend these concerts, and the music is ridiculously good. No one does anything on Fridays anymore, so get a group and walk a few blocks if you’re trynna get ALT for a day. Even better news is that you don't have to pound eight shots in order to stay awake for it because it's at noon.
Penn Students Involved:
Photo Credit: Scott Sprunger (C'16)
Selena Caruso (C’16) is the marketing assistant for WXPN and has been working there since her freshman year. She is a Communications major and was interested in getting involved in radio broadcasting, so she applied. Voila! As a marketing assistant, she notes that “attracting college kids is hard because we only listen to radio in the car.” That may be true, but if everyone stopped being lazy for 25 seconds and downloaded the WXPN app, you would never suffer from an overplayed song ever again. Curuso said, “What makes WXPN special is that all of our setlists are curated by DJs, not coded. So some of the “Top 40” stations put together playlists through codes that tell songs to play a certain amount of times. All the songs on WXPN are hand picked by our DJs and put into a setlist.” Not only will you not suffer from music boredom, but you won’t hear the same song played 4 times within a 60 minute period.
Photo Credit: Scott Sprunger (C'16)
Scott Sprunger (C'16) grew up listening to WXPN, and says it's one of the reasons he wanted to go to Penn in the first place. He specifically works with World Cafe and helps organize the interviews with the musicians and the live performances. Scott helps prepare the scripts for the World Cafe shows, does the research for the artist interviews and provides hospitality for the visiting musicians. He has worked with hundreds of musicians, and frequently watches these artists go from "living out of a sprinter van to touring the country in a tour bus." He has worked with Ellie Goulding, Ingrid Michaelson, Cat Stevens and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to name a few. Scott says that the best part about WXPN is "their allegiance with listeners and musicians" since its "not a commercial radio station."WXPN builds a community around music" especially "really good music before the artists make it big." Listen to WXPN and you could be the one to say you knew "so and so" before they were popular!
Photo Credit: Hannah Schwartz (C'17)
Hannah Schwartz (C'17) was originally apart of WQHS, the Penn student run radio station, when it was still a part of WXPN. Because she's a big fan of NPR and wanted to work with music, she followed WXPN when it became independent from Penn. Hannah has been apart of WXPN for a while and has gotten to see the station help artists grow, like Dr. Dog, Waxahatchee and Alex G. WXPN obviously "demystifies the live music business," and Hannah has gotten to be involved with fairly big concert promotors and venues in the Philly area because of her involvement. She encourages the general public to listen to WQHS as well!
Olivia Graham (C'17) has been listening to WXPN since she was in diapers, and her dad has been a member forever. She found out about the WXPN internship her freshman year and applied as a work study. Olivia remembers when WXPN coined Ingrid Michaelson as an "artist to watch." She also recalls that WXPN was one of the first stations to play Hozier stateside. In terms of the work environment at WXPN, Olivia say "every single person at the station is amazingly talented, loves their job and loves what the radio does. The music they play is so diverse and they actually have a huge community presence." In a nutshell, WXPN is a "perfect form of discovery." Her shameless plug for the station: "Become a member for less than Spotify costs a month and get major discounts on stuff like XPNFest Summer Festival and discounts at cool, local-radio friendly places like Philadelphia Brewing Company!"