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Putting on a Show, and Then Some

April 09, 2015

Senior communications major and WKDU DJ Nick Stropko stands in front of old WKDU concert posters in the college radio station's studio.
Senior communications major and WKDU DJ Nick Stropko stands in front of old WKDU concert posters in the college radio station's studio.

Most students only view the 19th century European paintings and sculptures in the A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery while on a prospective student tour. But, for one night, you can experience the gallery in a way few have in its 103-year history: as a concert venue for local bands.

An event will feature acoustic sets from three Philly bands performing with the  esteemed art collection as a backdrop. All music will be broadcast on WKDU 91.7 FM, Drexel’s free format, student-run college radio station, during the concert held at 7 p.m. on April 30.

It’s all thanks to Nick Stropko, a senior communications major who put together the show for his senior project. By the time he graduates this June, he will have secured a concert space, booked all three bands, promoted the event, hosted the show, photographed the artists at the concert, broadcasted it and collected donations for WKDU.

Oh, and then he’ll write a report describing the whole process.

“I never had doubt that my senior project wouldn’t include WKDU in some capacity,” Stropko explained. “WKDU has been an integral part of my professional and educational experience at Drexel. I’ve been a DJ for all five years as a student. I was the station’s PR coordinator for two years and I’ve been the event coordinator for one year.”

Though WKDU hasn’t held a concert on campus while Stropko has been a member, the radio station has a long history of bringing acts to campus. Back in the ‘90s, the station hosted on-campus shows for punk bands like Bikini Kill and Fugazi, according to concert posters displayed in the station’s studio, located in the basement of the Creese Student Center.

“I certainly had an inkling of an idea that WKDU can host shows. WKDU promotes concerts and present shows at venues. It makes sense to host a show, and to specifically host a show on campus,” Stropko said.

The location of such a show came up when Stropko attended a mandatory events coordinating training session through Drexel’s Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC). He was surprised to learn the A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery was included in a list of possible event venues. Though he’d seen Drexel’s string ensemble perform in the room, he’d never heard of a non-Drexel band playing there — and immediately thought he could be the one to make it happen.

“It kind of clicked. I realized I could do an on-campus event for WKDU as the events coordinator and complete my senior project, and hopefully raise money for WKDU — all in one swoop,” Stropko said.

Once his senior project proposal was approved, Stropko started looking for local bands capable of playing an acoustic, stripped-down set. He was especially interested in those who have played basement shows in West Philly.

“Drexel students might not otherwise hear about bands in the DIY music scene of West Philly, and I wanted to bring that to campus, he said. “There are a lot of great bands that play there and there are a lot of people who are into that scene.”

Senior communications major Nick Stropko takes a break during his WKDU show "Jazzy Vibezzz."

One act, the West Philly folk band Geb the Great Cackler, came from a recommendation from a fellow WKDU DJ. The last band, the local dream pop group Laser Background, already had ties to WKDU after doing an in-studio performance at the station.

The bands’ sets will be broadcasted with the help of Stropko’s fellow WKDU DJs. The suggested entrance fee is $5 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit WKDU.

For more information on “WKDU Presents: Quiet Riot — A Special Acoustic Show with Laser Background and Geb the Great Cackler,” which will be held in the A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 30, check out the event’s Facebook page.

Note: This story has been edited to reflect lineup changes.