On the record: KSPC’s 50th semi-annual CD & record expo

A watch-clad hand puts a record on a black Victrola record player. A blue cup, red apple, peach, banana, and newspaper are perched on a shelf above the record player.
The 5Cs’ radio station, KSPC 88.7 FM, hosted its 50th semi-annual CD & Record Expo on Sept. 22. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Tracks that ranged from Hardrive’s iconic “Deep Inside” house beat to the Supremes’ saccharine “Baby Love” filled Edmunds Ballroom Sept. 22 as attendees thumbed through bins of records and CDs and perused music memorabilia. 

The event was KSPC’s 50th semi-annual CD & Record Expo. KSPC 88.7 FM, the 5Cs’ student-run radio station, aims to provide not just Claremont, but Los Angeles with the tones of underrepresented voices, according to their volunteer application. A collaborative project that first began in the 1950s, the station is devoted to creating community around music. 

Olivia McGrath SC ’22, a DJ and music director for the station, described KSPC as “a group of passionate, unique people — both students and adults … who share a love for music and enjoy sharing that with others.” 

And share a love of music they did. 

In addition to being a fundraiser, the CD & Record Expo was also an opportunity for supporters of the Claremont Colleges’ radio station to celebrate. 

Attendees ran the gamut from 5C students and adult members of the KSPC community to families looking for a way to beat the late summer heat. Admission was free for Claremont students and $2 for the general public.

McGrath remarked that the Expo was an opportunity for her to come into contact with KSPC’s history.

“I especially love how widespread and long-lasting KSPC’s impact has been on the community, with some DJs having been at the station for over 30 years,” she said. “Having these community members introduce themselves to me and tell me stories [connects] me to people I would never meet otherwise.”

Vendors Rob Freeman and Tory Freeman PO ’82 raved about good business. 

“We’ve had a lot of activity since we started, even before the doors opened at 10 a.m., and we had some dealer-to-dealer business going on so it’s been good,” Tory Freeman said.

Rob Freeman said selling records was a large part of his college experience. 

“I even used it to pay for a portion of my tuition in the ’80s,” he said.

When asked what drives record culture’s popularity, he attributed it to childhood memory. 

“There are a lot of people, young people, who remember their parents having records, and they were sort of curious objects back then,” he said. “Now, there’s sort of a youth movement in the purchasing of records whereas in the past it was a thing middle-aged guys did.”

Charles Becker PO ’23 and Sade Corpuz PO ’23, both casual record buyers, also cited nostalgia as the driving force for record collecting’s increasing popularity in a music culture dominated by streaming services. 

“Since we’re in the technological age, people are going back to these older ways of listening to music,” Becker said. “It’s the same thing with film photography which [has also been] having a resurgence.” 

Corpuz pointed to social media as a way in which vinyl culture has been popularized and also said people want to market the “old soul” archetype.

Alan Ke PO ’22, a KSPC DJ and music director, said the CD & Record Expo is a good place to get bang for your buck.  

“The best part of the expo is with all the vendors that come, you can often find lots of rare stuff for discounted prices if you’re committed to the hunt …” Ke said. “You’ll find a lot of artists like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin in the bins they’ve got for sale, often for reasonable prices, too. Vinyl has been getting a resurgence lately, and while it can get expensive, it doesn’t always have to be if you spend your money wisely.”

John Stout, the brain behind KSPC’s first Record Expo organized in 1995, took notice of the ebb and flow in vinyl sales. 

“[Records have] made a nice comeback; we’re finding it’s a growing business again,” he said. “Young people find vinyl a tactile thing; they find novelty in putting a needle in the groove. They’ve really revived the market.”

Speculation about the market for records aside, the Expo exemplified the joy KSPC fosters. 

“The community is great,” Ke said. “I came to college knowing that I wanted to be involved with music somehow, and honestly the radio is one of the best ways to do it because you get to meet people with all different kinds of tastes.”

As students and their Claremont neighbors left Edmunds Ballroom with their newly acquired vinyl records in hand, it was clear KSPC’s community had brought together a devoted society of music lovers.

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