Radio DePaul Sports announces comeback

The studio for Radio DePaul Sports office in the Loop campus.

Courtesy of Abbas Dahodwala

The studio for Radio DePaul Sports’ office in the Loop campus.

Michael Jordan announced his return to the Chicago Bulls and the NBA by faxing a document simply stating “I’m back.” While not to the same magnitude, Radio DePaul Sports did something similar announcing their return on Twitter.

However, because of COVID-19, things are not going to be business as usual for Radio DePaul Sports. But what does coming back look like for the station amid campus restrictions?

“We will have limited access to our station downtown which is reserved for those who may not be able to record at home for whatever reason,” said Gina Ciolli, general manager for Radio DePaul Sports. “But we are trying to contain that to one day a week so that we can make sure that people are as safe as possible.”

The most glaring change will be the type of content produced. With no live DePaul sports for the fall quarter and the limited station access, recorded content will be in the forefront.

“This year, listeners are going to be able to have unlimited access to new and returning shows in the form of podcasts,” said Natalie Burjek, social media and imaging director at Radio Depaul Sports. “We are working on bringing live shows to listeners at least one day a week, though. This is different from previous years because almost all of our shows were live and produced from our station in the loop.” 

Another option they are considering with regards to live programming is possibly live streaming shows on streaming platforms like Twitch. Stations like 670 The Score live stream some of their shows on Twitch and it is a good way to get audience feedback as the show is being produced. 

Similar to students using Zoom for their classes, that’s how the radio hosts were producing their shows.

Like everyone else though, we adapted. We are very grateful to have the technology and ability to continue to broadcast our voice. Through Zoom, we have been able to record our shows and to continue through them through podcast form,” said Jake Cantu, the program director at Radio DePaul Sports. “For the fall quarter we realized that things were still going to be different, so we were prepared for remote shows. Our plan is still to generate content regarding all the leagues.”

For a college radio station, where change is almost a certainty from quarter to quarter, or semester to semester, trying to plan for those changes only got more difficult not knowing how things were going to unfold.

“With so much uncertainty from how campus was going to look, we didn’t want to make any conclusions regarding how the station would run,” Ciolli said. “So we basically just planned what we could control in the moment which was switching to our new management team and coming up with as many ideas for how we could handle different situations.”

Prior to the start of the fall quarter, The DePaulia reported some of the requirements DePaul set in place that required students to wear face coverings at all times when on campus, mandated proper social distancing and encouraged good personal hygiene. Keeping people safe is the number one priority and it was the priority when deciding to come back.

“Obviously, safety was our number one factor that had to be considered going into making our decision,” said Burjek. “Our staff supervisor, Scott Vyverman, was mainly in contact with the university about what we will be allowed to do this year, which he then communicated to us managers.”

Because programming in the summer is scarce, programming was not impacted as much as it was during the final weeks of the spring quarter. Any host who had shows during the spring and wanted to continue them had the option of doing so but many opted not to for obvious reasons.

Another wrench in coming back is that there will be no live sports at DePaul. As The DePaulia reported back in August, the Big East canceled fall sports because of the pandemic. 

“In the fall quarter, we would normally be covering men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball,” Cioll saidi. “Obviously that is not an option for us so we are still keeping our fingers crossed that we can cover basketball and other winter/spring sports. So that will be a pretty large aspect, and one of our more special capabilities here at DePaul, that we will be missing this quarter.”

However, professional sports are back and that is what they are going to have to focus on for the time being. The first podcast dropped under the station’s new format was “Pick Six Nation” with Mike Elzinga in which he broke down the start of the NFL season as well as other stories that happened during the week.

Going forward, much of the content will focus on professional sports leagues with the hopes that DePaul sports eventually comes back. 

There is no timetable set for when the radio station at the loop campus will be accessible to students. In the meantime, they will try to make do with what they have. 

“If there are sports on the network, you best believe we are going to be covering it,” Cantu said. “We have a great staff that is ready to get back to work and I cannot wait to get their content up.”