If you’re not keeping up with college radio in the Triangle, it’s time to tune in.
NC State’s student-run radio station WKNC will host its 17th annual Double Barrel Benefit festival at the Raleigh venue Kings for two nights, Feb. 7 and 8. Each year, Double Barrel’s lineup highlights North Carolina-based artists — often those already found within the station’s locally-minded programming.
“Introducing the Raleigh-Durham community to these musicians is really important, because if we don’t get North Carolinians supporting North Carolinians, nothing in North Carolina will grow,” WKNC’s general manager Laura Mooney said. “That’s something we really try to emphasize when putting [Double Barrel] together.”
WKNC’s regular programming is divided into four main genres: Daytime indie, Chainsaw heavy metal, Afterhours electronic and Underground hip hop, with a daily ‘Local Lunch’ hour from 12 to 1 p.m., solely dedicated to North Carolina acts. This year’s Double Barrel, planned by Mooney alongside program director Henry Boyd and station adviser Jamie Lynn Gilbert, serves as a cross-section of the station’s schedule. Raleigh-based acts Pat Junior, a hip hop artist, and Truth Club, an indie rock band, will headline the first and second nights, respectively.
“I think the lineup definitely meshes well together, even though it’s made up of different genres,” Junior said. “That’s one thing that I’m definitely excited about — you’ll get a different feel from each act, but I think the show is going to flow very well.”
According to Gilbert — also NC State’s student media associate director — Double Barrel began in 2004 as the brainchild of former general manager Jamie Proctor. At the time, the station was “heavily reliant” on student fees, a circumstance Proctor hoped to escape by finding a way to generate independent revenue. Currently, Double Barrel is the station’s largest fundraiser, accounting for 6% of its annual income.
“Historically, the community response has been strong. Because the vast majority of artists that have performed at Double Barrel have been North Carolina bands, there’s a lot of support from the local music community,” Gilbert said. “[For artists,] I’d like to think it’s a little bit of a badge of honor — like, ‘I got to play Double Barrel.’”
It’s a symbiotic relationship — for as much as WKNC does to promote local music, much of the excitement for Double Barrel seems to stem from the love the community has for the station it benefits. Junior, who has maintained a relationship with the station for several years, is saving the first live performance of music from his 2019 album “I Thought I Knew” specifically for Double Barrel.
“College students are one of the groups of people who listen to music the most, so I think ... a lot of new people end up finding out about our music through listening to college stations [like WKNC],” Junior said. “It’s beneficial not only to artists ... but it’s overall just beneficial to anyone who cares about the music scene in North Carolina.”
The origins of WKNC date back to 1922. It was eastern North Carolina’s first regional station and the third overall to be registered in the state.
“WKNC prioritizes local music in a way that other [college radio stations] don’t ... and the best part is that people pay attention,” wrote Yvonne Chazal, a guitarist and bassist in Truth Club, in an email. “Walking around in a WKNC shirt means being stopped by at least one local old-head who’s like, ‘I DJ’ed at WKNC back in the ‘80s! I still play the station for my kids!’ I personally think it’s one of the things that makes our area such a great place to make music.’”
In addition to the community it serves, the community of the station benefits its student staff. In nearly a century’s worth of existence, multiple generations of student DJs have come through. According to Gilbert, who has worked in student media at the university since May 2006, students often name their work at the station as “the best part of their college career.”
“I had a set of DJs get married after I suggested they cohost with each other. They didn’t know each other, but I was like ‘I think those two would work really well together’ — which they obviously did,” Gilbert said. “They’re getting lifelong friendships, lifelong relationships, even.”
According to Mooney, whose involvement with WKNC began during their first year at NC State, the station hopes to maintain an open environment for both student involvement and for the music it promotes.
“Myself and my staff members really do strive to … welcome everybody with open arms,” Mooney said. “College radio is a grassroots movement that promotes the smaller people. [It’s] really amazing to be able to give back to them, for [all] they give to us.”
Advance tickets for Double Barrel Benefit 17 are available for $13 (one night) or $22 (both nights). Tickets can be found at wknc.org/dbb17.
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