PHOTO BY DAVID OLANIRAN/MANAGING EDITOR FOR VISUAL AND MULTIMEDIA
Known for their jazz and blues music and news on campus, WVAS 90.7 welcomes back Candy Capel as their temporary station manager. Capel returned to the radio station on Sept. 1.
In her tenure, Capel hopes to revitalize and repair the equipment used to broadcast the station to reclaim their “Sound of Excellence” tagline. She states that there will be numerous engineering upgrades, such as a new transmitter, allowing her team to have three separate high-definition (HD) channels along with the return of the popular student station. Once completing those repairs, she can move forward on her other initiatives, but this is her main priority.
As of now, there is no exact date on when those repairs are scheduled to be completed. However, Capel assures that 12 months should give her and her staff enough time to move forward with purchasing the correct equipment needed.
“There has to be a series of meetings between our facilities management, the engineers, the staff, and OTS,” Capel said. “ In terms of trying to get new equipment and even things like the transmitter in here, you have to make time for a long lead because it’s really hard to get equipment and components these days because of supply shortages. So, it may take you four or five months to actually get the equipment that you need.”
Being based in the city of Montgomery, Capel wants to restore the station’s community presence. The station hosted many events and concerts in previous years including Jazz on the Grass and the Labor Day Classic concert. So engaging in the community, garnering partnerships, and telling people’s stories are important for Capel as she seeks to accomplish those goals.
“There’s a lot going on that people don’t know, and unless we tell our own story, it gets missed,” Capel said. “So really pushing to get back to telling those stories about Alabama State and the achievements of our students, our faculty, and our staff is important.”
According to Capel, a partnership with Sony would be an amazing opportunity for the jazz and rhythm and blues (R&B) station. Since the station is noncommercial, Capel believes Sony would allow for an expansion of music to be played rather than the same songs. She also mentioned that a probable partnership with Sony would allow for students to correct training and opportunities.
“If Sony were ever to come in and work with us, we could partner with some of the schools in the Montgomery Public School System,” Capel said. “Whether it’s their bands or other performers that they have, there’s so much talent. And so being able to talk to a company like that and looking at a number of projects and long-range projects. I think that would be really, really exciting.”
Originating from New Orleans, Louisiana, Capel attended Tulane University, formerly known as Newcomb College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She originally wanted to work in the field of psychiatry but ended up crossing paths with commercial radio. Her father was in the military, so they were constantly on the road growing up and once he retired, they lived in Tuskegee. Tuskegee is where Capel stumbled into her passion for radio at a local news station.
Capel has, periodically, been a part of the radio station since its inception in 1984, recently passing its 36th anniversary.
“ I started out as a part-time announcer,” Capel said. “and then I was kind of back and forth for a while. And when I came back, I was doing public affairs, and eventually, I moved into management. I literally have lost count of how many times I’ve been a manager here.”
In 2017, Capel retired from being the station manager and started CC’s Daiquiri Bar. After that venture, Capel moved onto self-employment, consulting work with primary grants related to COVID-19 projects. Once receiving the call to return to the station, she gave it serious thought and consideration but was very humbled to be the one that was asked to place everything back on the right track.
“When you become accustomed to working for yourself and setting your own hours and especially in this COVID environment, you have to step back and take a thought for a minute and say, ‘OK, is this what I want to do?’ Capel said. “But I absolutely love this station. As I said, I was around when it first went on the air. I know what it’s capable of. I know what we’ve done during the years. I know all the awards we’ve won, and I’ve always had a great staff. Luckily, some of them are still here, so that’s awesome.”
To the communication majors, Capel welcomes them with open arms.
“I think that our students, especially our communications students, should realize that this is one of the few places in the university that you can go and actually start practicing your craft without having experience.”
Those interested in not only news or sports broadcasting but behind-the-scenes concepts such as editing and producing are strongly encouraged to take their practicum or internship with WVAS to gain hands-on experience through the various labs they have to offer.
“Right now, we are only a two-and-a-half-person staff now. So it’s a great experience and great for your resume,” Capel said.
For students interested in listening, WVAS 90.7 operates 24/7, with professional broadcasters and live announcements being aired on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.