In the University Center game room, next to Veteran and Military Affairs, you’ll find the Perch studio. Despite having such a small space, big waves are being made by the Perch.
Haley Solomon, the faculty adviser of the Perch, with the help of her dedicated students, such as Perch Station Manager Fay Aregai, have rebranded and rebuilt the UTC student radio station after COVID-19 pressed the pause button for this student organization in March 2020.
“When I first was hired as faculty adviser, the Perch was essentially a non-functioning entity,” Solomon said. “The programming was being taken care of by the station manager for WUTC. Music was playing but that’s about it. We did not have a functioning studio. We did not have a student body. We did not have student staff. We did not have a brand, logo, graphics or website. I mean, these things existed, but they hadn’t been maintained for so long that it really felt like we needed to completely start over.”
“When we first came to the actual studio,” Aregai said, “it was pretty much in disarray. Not really anything hung up on the walls and it just seemed like it had been abandoned. So it was pretty much inactive at that point.”
Solomon and her handful of dedicated Perch members assessed the situation and began making lists of what they wanted and needed to accomplish in order to rebuild. And then, they went to work.
“They created a new brand and identity for the Perch,” Solomon said. “They have a really fun, funky logo, and the website is really cute and bright and colorful. So I think they created a visual identity that is eye-catching and interesting and thought-provoking but in a more complex way. I mean, we have a functioning student organization now.”
With nine staff members and about 20 hosts, the Perch is soaring to new heights. On Oct. 27, they held their first event and it was a big win for the team.
“The Perch Launch Party Spooktacular is the official name,” Aregai said. “It was a show that had three bands, two DJs, and we had tables set up at UTC’s Amphitheater. We were kind of just celebrating the launch of the Perch and finally being able to get up on our feet and get started.”
Added Solomon, “It was a total success. I was really proud of the students’ efforts and how they executed the event.”
With the first successful event under their belt, the Perch staff are hungry for bigger and better events and are aiming to be more widely known among the student body and UTC campus community.
“We have three pillars of growth or goals that we are trying to achieve,” Solomon said. “The first is brand awareness. We want to be able to be anywhere on campus and say, ‘The Perch,’ and not have to immediately say what it is. Every time we seem to talk about it with students, we immediately get the follow-up question, ‘What is The Perch? I’ve never heard of this.’ We’re really trying to work on brand awareness.
“Then outside of that is engagement. Engagement with the student body. Engagement with the Chattanooga community. This could be in a variety of ways, either having more students produce programs for the Perch or throwing more events that people can attend that are executed by the Perch and represents the UTC community and the Perch radio station. And then having a business development where we become essentially a functioning radio station by having paid advertisement.
“So we’re hoping to get into that and be able to sponsor ourselves from year to year with the money we make in advertisement. One of my long-term goals is to take all of the student staff to public radio conferences. And there are specific conferences for college radio stations, too. So I want them to be able to not only learn more skills in this line of professional work but also make friends across the country with people like them who care about radio or music or subjects they love to talk about. And that’s something that we need money for.
“Once we can get our functioning business plan-style thing going and make money from advertisement, we can start to hit those big projects like taking students to conferences and redesigning our studios so it has top-of-the-line equipment, so they can have an experience that really reflects working in the radio industry.”