An Inside Look At Lafayette's Arts Scene

When most people hear Lafayette, they think of preppy athletes and diligent engineers. It’s pretty rare that someone will automatically think of the arts in conjunction with Lafayette. After spending almost a full semester here, I have had amazing experiences in the creativity-focused clubs on campus. Despite this, it is clear to me and many others that there isn’t a big turnout for arts clubs. People sign up for the email list, join the group chats, but seldom attend club events or show up to meetings. 

I interviewed two fellow members of WJRH (the college radio station), Charlie Harper and Henry Lewand, in order to gain some insight into Lafayette’s creative scene and background on the people who are involved.

 

Charlie Harper

Q: What’s your name, major, and class?

CH: I’m Charlie Harper. I’m an Economics major with a Theatre minor planned, and I’m a sophomore (class of 2022 for those people).

 

Q: What do you do?

CH: In terms of this interview, I have a radio show with one of my friends, Kyle Falatko. He’s not here right now because he’s in class. My radio show is The Kyle and Charlie Show and it’s at 10 P.M. on Thursdays on WJRH.org or 104.9 FM. 

 

Q: Why do you do your podcast?

CH: I’m gonna do my answer, and then Kyle also guessed that this was going to be one of the questions. I do the show because last term I met a friend through another club. His name is Kevin Milton (shoutout to my boy). We became really good friends through that club, and he said, “Hey, you’d be really funny on my radio show!”. So Kevin invited me onto his radio show with a couple of my friends and we just sat there and I loved the experience. I thought, “Next year, I’m gonna get one of these.” I thought it’d be weird to sit there and talk by myself for an hour, so I decided to ask Kyle to do this radio show with me. He was like, “Heck yeah!” and we gave birth to the Kyle and Charlie Show shortly after. 

 

Q: What is the best aspect of what you do?

CH: This is Kyle’s answer, because Kyle also predicted one of these questions, “Our radio show allows art to not necessarily become this ‘high class’ thing. Who wants to pay $1000 to put a painting in their room like ‘yeah, I like art’, or hundreds of dollars on Hamilton tickets like ‘yeah, I like seeing art!’. No, wrong. Our art is for middle-class Americans.” Anyway, my favorite part of our podcast is that it’s one of the only podcasts that Lafayette has. I think it might be the only one that is put on the radio because it’s PG and family-friendly. We get to have control for an entire hour and just hang out. Potentially anyone in the world could hear you say it, and that’s really cool. Peter (Torrente) is definitely not cool enough for the Kyle and Charlie Show. Oh, Kyle also said that “Our show is a means to find art and meaning within the ridiculous things in life. Art doesn’t have to be paintings or classical compositions. It can be something as simple as observing the wild turns and changes of human conversations. In that say, we are art that anyone can indulge. We are art for the common person.”

 

Q: Does your podcast function as a stress reliever?

CH: Yes, mostly, but I also just do it for fun. It’s not like, “Oh, I had a bad day let me go rant on the radio.” It functions as a stress relief because I don’t think about stressful things while I do my show.

 

Q: Do you do anything on campus other than art focused clubs?

CH: I mean, I go to class and I’m on the Quidditch team. I also work in theatre. I like doing things both in and out of my major. I like reading about economy stuff I guess, like reading the Economist. I follow the news as much as I can, but that can get really boring really fast so I try to do other things. I don’t do music on my radio show, it’s a podcast...The Kyle and Charlie show at 10 P.M. on Thursdays.

 

Q: Do you think the art/music scene at Lafayette is relevant or do people just ignore it?

CH: I mean we literally have art housing for people involved in the arts...so I’d say that the art thing is as relevant as the students want it to be. If you totally want to avoid the arts you can, but at the same time, the college does a really good job of having the arts there. We have TWO theaters! The college does care as much as a lot of people say it doesn’t. Arts are just expensive in general.

 

Q: What is your favorite show/podcast other than yours?

CH: I used to listen to music podcasts when I was younger, but my tastes have refined. My RAs from last year have a show, so I listen to that. Also, my boy Peter has a show that I listen to. I’m not as involved in listening to WJRH shows as I’d like to be.

 

Q: Do you play any instruments or do visual arts?

CH: I’m world-famous for my skills in Microsoft Paint. I do a lot of meme-making and photoshops on my phone if that counts. Digital art is a fun time if you’re just cropping your friend’s head on a cursed image.

 

Q: Would you ever see your podcast becoming a career?

CH: That’d be pretty awesome if it took off. If it happened then I’d be like hell yeah and see where it takes me. Our podcast is still in the baby phases, so I’m not in a position to say I’m going to publish my podcast. I plan on doing it for the rest of my time at college. 

 

Q: Would you ever be interested in live performing your podcast?

CH: I think both of us would enjoy a comedy club sort of thing, but it might ruin the energy of the podcast. We could still do bits but it’d have to be a lot more scripted.

 

Henry Lewand

Q: What’s your name, major, and class?

HL: My name is Henry Lewand. I’m a Government/Law Major and I’m  a junior.

 

Q: What do you do?

HL: I’m the community service chairman for Phi Kappa Psi, I’m on the investment club board, and although I’m taking a break this semester I do have a radio show on WJRH. It’s called the Hour of Influence. It’s like a talk show, but we also play music and gave guests on. We even have a game show built into it.

 

Q: Why do you do what you do?

HL: I joined a fraternity because I felt that there were a lot of upsides to doing so. I really like the people I’m involved with and I’m active on campus. I was originally an Economics major and when I dropped that I figured that I should stick with the investment club. For WJRH, I always liked a bunch of different radio shows like The Breakfast Club. During orientation, one of the kids in my group, Kyle Blumenthal, and I thought it’d be funny if we had a radio show where we did all this crazy stuff. We went to the first meeting freshman year, and then we roped two of our friends into doing it. It was a good break because the rest of our week was pretty busy. We’d write out a bunch of skits on the Thursday before our show and just plan a little. We also planned the show around our guests. We also had a love segment called the Love Doctor where people could write in ‘love requests’. We were trying to be as goofy as possible.

 

Q: Do you see your show ever turning into something that would be career-focused or is this strictly a hobby for you?

HL: I think having a show and being able to write creatively has definitely convinced me that I can use the skills I’ve gotten from the show to do other things. For example, I’m the public relations chair for the fraternity and it’s helped me realize that maybe I’d be good in branding. Also, I just don’t think I’m interesting enough to be the next big radio personality.

 

Q: What’s the best aspect of the things that you do?

HL: I think the best aspect is bringing someone onto the show and seeing that they have a completely different personality. There’s something about being in a studio that brings out a different element in someone. A few of my friends have just gone off on these crazy stories that I’d never heard of. We try to encourage hot but respectful takes. 

 

Q: Do you do anything else creativity wise like play instruments or do visual art?

HL: I played trumpet in high school but I don’t play here because it’s a pretty big time commitment. I’d say as far as creativity, I’ve done social media marketing for internships and stuff like that. I like the idea of drawing, but I just suck at it. I also just really like planning things out and organizing.

 

Q: What/who is your favorite radio show or musician?

HL: I really like NPR Tiny Desk. I’ve watched all of those, I just throw them up. I like the format because you can see the artist without auto-tune, exactly how they are. I like a bunch of different genres. I used to live down the road from The Beatles in England. So I think from a young age I was exposed to a love for music, and also my parents are into music so I almost didn’t have a choice of just being into Soundcloud rap.

 

Q: Does what you do function as a stress reliever?

HL: Yeah, it’s fun to point out some of the everyday absurdities that occur at Lafayette. There are so many things that just makes no sense. By the end of the show, I’m tired and I want to take a nap. I’d attribute it to a nap.

 

Q: Do you think the art/music scene is ignored at Lafayette?

HL: A lot of the people that I know from the music scene are people I don’t think I would have ran into from my social life. I feel like all the DJs have a weird thing in common (including me) and they’re all at least somewhat interesting. I wouldn’t have run into them, but not because of being exclusionary. It’s a lot different from the norm, so I don’t know if I’d say it’s ignored. At the end of the day, there are going to be people who are super into it and people that don’t care. I think the school could possibly do a better job advertising the arts scene, but I’m unsure of how they would do that. I think the best answer would be getting as many people from different groups involved with each other as possible.

 

Q: Do you think that there are misconceptions about the kids who are involved in the arts scene?

HL: I think a lot of athletes are really busy, so it’s hard for them to get involved in other stuff. That’s just how D1 Sports are. I don’t necessarily think that those people think that it’s weird, they actually think it’s pretty cool to have a DJ show. I can only speak to my experiences, and I’ve always been really supported by my brothers in the fraternity and they’ve always supported our show. If you’re a part of an accepting community, then it can be a lot of fun. We are like a group of 50 in WJRH, so it’s pretty insular. That being said, I’d rather have a tight-knit group of kids over 200 people who aren’t into it. Despite being small, I think that the people who are a part of it are super into it.

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Overall, it seems to be agreed upon that Lafayette’s arts scene is small but mighty. While it’s debatable whether or not the school could do more to boost involvement, or whether they should, the people who are currently involved are passionate about what they do. Lafayette has a wide variety of clubs dedicated to art and creativity, including (but not limited to) LIMS, LAVA, and WJRH. Art is one of the best ways to unwind from a heavy academic load, so if you have a lot on your plate just try it out!