Shelves of thousands upon thousands of LPs, categorized by genre in Sharpie and colored paper, cover the walls of WESU’s office from floor to ceiling. Some of these records, from the ’40s, are nearly as old as the radio station itself, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Others have been purchased in the past year.
WESU has turntables in each of its two broadcasting studios, and, according to WESU General Manager Benjamin Michael, the records filling the shelves of the office continue to be played to this day.
“[It’s not as if] the majority of DJs at WESU are playing vinyl,” Michael said. “But it’s a substantial portion of our staff.”
Since records are such a large aspect of WESU, past and present, it seems fitting that WESU hosts the Community Record Fair once a semester. The latest iteration of this biannual sale is occurring this Sunday, Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Beckham Hall.
Between one and two dozen vendors will be at the fair, primarily to sell LPs, but some vendors will also sell CDs. Two of the more prominent vendors are Redscroll Records, from Wallingford, Conn., and Trash American Style from Danbury, Conn.
Gallery Supervisor of the Davison Art Center Lee Berman, a WESU staff member, cofounded the Community Record Fair in 2009 with Brian Frenette, a former WESU staff member. Berman currently helps organize the event. He said that although most of the vendors are from the area, some past vendors haven’t even come from Connecticut.
“Some of the vendors we’ve had come from as far away as Maine [and] New York,” Berman said.
The record fair strives to draw in a mixture of community members and students as customers.
“It’s usually a great mix of students and people from the community,” Michael said. “I grew up [in Middletown], so I recognize people from the community who come in year after year at this point.”
Berman said that though the event primarily focuses on selling music, it is not limited to record sales.
“We’ve had other people in the past come and sell T-shirts or memorabilia,” Berman said, “And then some other things, too—books, DVDs.”
Michael said that the radio station itself will have a booth at the event.
“We’ll be selling a lot of the music that we haven’t added to our collection, a lot of the promotional music that gets sent to us,” Michael said. “We receive probably anywhere between 100 and 300 CDs a month to review and add to our collection. But we don’t add all of it…so we usually save [the CDs we don’t add], and we bring it out at the record fair and we sell our CDs for, like, $1 apiece.”
Michael added that the station will sell vinyl records as well.
“A lot of those are donations we receive over the years,” he said.
David Whitney ’16, the Events Coordinator of WESU, said that the radio station’s booth will also feature WESU merchandise.
“We have a new shirt for our 75th anniversary, and everybody thinks it’s super hot and keeps asking me where they can buy it,” Whitney said. “Well, they can buy it at the record fair.”
Whitney added that community DJs will be spinning records at the event.
“Some of the biggest community DJs at WESU are going to be spinning music live throughout the event,” Whitney said. “I’m kind of bummed that no students volunteered to do that because I think that would be cool—to me, that’s a place to improve, because it’s all community DJs who are doing it—but it’s kind of hard to actually spin live and not be intimidated by that.”
In addition, Berman noted that there will be tables set up for the Friends of the Russell Library and the Buttonwood Tree. Unlike the tables for record vendors, these tables will be free of cost to the organizations.
“We try and bring other people, other community organizations, just to show that we’re all in this together and to hopefully help them out as well,” Berman said.
In many ways, the record fair reflects WESU as an organization. According to Whitney, a large portion of staff members at WESU are not students. The focus of WESU therefore lies in the mix of students and community members.
Whitney finds that the record fair’s emphasis on being a community event is one of its greatest assets.
“I think the record fair is cool because WESU as an organization is a surprisingly big point of contact between Wesleyan University and the students here—who spend all of their time on campus—and community members and the broader Connecticut community,” Whitney said. “So I think [the record fair] is a space like the station itself, where students and community members can get equally comfortable and can be interacting with one another.”