On Saturday, Oct. 26, WMUH’s first annual Radio Riff-Off event was held in the Red Door Cafe. With over 170 people in attendance, the show was held from 7:30-10:30. The night included performances from on-campus a capella groups the Acafellas and Chaimonics, Muhlenberg student performers and one performer from the greater Lehigh Valley community, with each performer having the chance of winning a $500-value recording session at Silvertone Studios. Upon entering, attendees were given red raffle tickets, which could be used to vote for their fan favorite performance throughout the night.
The event was sponsored by WMUH, the college’s radio station. WMUH’s business manager, Michelle Rajan ‘21, and secretary, Rebecca Cooperstein ‘20, were instrumental in the success of the event as co-directors. Last semester, Rajan felt inspired to bring local musicians and the music industry together, and she did so successfully. After discussing her idea with WMUH General Manager Paul Krempasky, she teamed up with Cooperstein, who had been interested in bringing a “Battle of the Bands” event to campus. Soon after, the two worked together to plan an opportunity for local performers to showcase their talents in a more competitive setting. The pair promoted their ideas through airing promos on WMUH, putting up posters around the school and using social media to spread awareness.
“We tried to promote anywhere that we were having open auditions for anyone on or off campus, but that we weren’t exclusive to bands,” said Rajan. “We wanted instrumentalists, singer-songwriters, anyone considered a musician.”
Rajan and Cooperstein served as emcees at the event and introduced all of the performances. The performers competing for the price included Muhlenberg students Angelina Carrano ‘23, Michael Colasurdo ‘23, Zach Delecce ‘20, Cameryn Guetta ‘23, Elle Holzhauer ‘23, Michael Sova ‘20, Jack Van Burik ‘21 and Eddie Sanchez, who is not a Muhlenberg student. During the event, free food and drinks were provided for students. Additionally, WMUH had merchandise available for purchase.
The intimacy of the Red Doors provided the perfect setting for the show and attracted a large and diverse crowd. Although the event was centered around music and the arts, there were plenty of people in attendance who wanted to go and watch the performances regardless of their personal interests. “I realized then that our goal was definitely to connect musicians to opportunities but also to bridge the gaps between our Muhlenberg students and bring anyone and everyone together,” Rajan added. “The WMUH team did an amazing job!”
Creating an open platform for musicians to come together and share their art has been an important goal of many students. “I just want everyone to feel comfortable to be themselves,” first-year student and performer Holzhauer emphasized. “I chose to perform ‘I Want to Break Free’ because it not only resonates with my need to break away from the norm and discover my inner artist, but also because so many people want to figure out who they are, which can be very difficult in this day and age due to the fact that society glorifies some things and looks down upon others.” Expression through art can bring people together and create a smaller community within a larger campus community.
The welcoming atmosphere of the audience paired with the open, casual ambience made the event a fun night for all who attended. Third place recipient, Carrano, who sang “Killing Me Softly” by Zhavia Ward, describes the event as having “a great vibe and crowd [with] out of this world talent.”
After much deliberation from the judges, Sova won the first place prize of the $500-value recording session and was awarded WMUH Artist of the Year at the end of the night. Delecce, also the winner of the fan favorite award, was awarded second place, with Carrano in third. Silvertone Studios also offered all six Muhlenberg acapella groups free recording sessions. Congratulations to all of the performers who took part in this year’s Radio Riff Off!