All Things Reconsidered: The Sewanee Fog builds “tiny desk” studio

New Tiny Desk studio. Photo by Maria Mattingly (C’23).

Camp Spain
Arts and Entertainment Editor

In the wake of continued measures to maintain a COVID-safe campus, Sewanee’s internet radio station The Sewanee Fog (formerly WUTS 91.3 FM) has made steady progress in a creative way to showcase some of Sewanee’s best musicians right to our own devices. Student members of the Fog’s staff KT Pritchard (C’22), Joe Threlkeld (C’21), and Colin Smith (C’22), have been working on a new project: The Sewanee Fog Tiny Desk.

NPR’s Tiny Desk YouTube concert program has gained popularity over the last several years for placing artists in an unusual, hyper-stripped-down setting and demanding their A-game. The show is known for taking wildly popular artists like Mac Miller, Tame Impala, and many more out of the arenas and face to face in an intimate setting, while simultaneously giving more up-and-coming artists massive new exposure via NPR’s major following. These performances have wide appeal and are a staple for quality casual viewing. So, when the Sewanee Fog went digital, the idea to utilize some space in the station for a new modern project seemed almost necessary to pursue.

Colin Smith, speaking on behalf of the group, explained the origins of the project to turn a room used mainly for CD storage into a quality studio for performances. Smith states, “From what I can recall, the idea was conceived during the fall semester of 2018, which was the first semester of my freshman year. That year, both KT and I had been hired, and we initially knew the room as a CD storage room… KT was definitely one of the main proponents of the room, and she really began to push the idea of making it a room for live music and “tiny desk style” performances.” The vision made too much sense, and after the room was cleared, the choice was simple. “We were all on board immediately,” Smith said. “Live music room sounds way cooler than CD storage.”

The Fog definitely had their work cut out for them. Sorting through and efficiently relocating CDs that have accumulated for decades proved to be no easy task. Smith says, “Push really came to shove the second semester of KT’s and my Freshman year and Joe’s sophomore year. The biggest hurdle was relocating the CDs. The station, although not tiny, gives limited options for storage. What we ended up deciding on was to take hundreds of the discs out and use them to decorate the walls of the station, essentially repurposing/upcycling them as decoration pieces.” From there the process opened up wide, and the only thing left to do was begin to move in the new equipment.

In the short term, The Fog wants to get the room up and running as soon as possible to begin recording and producing studio sessions for student musicians to perform in a quality professional setting, but they don’t plan on stopping there. Smith says, “My long-term goal, getting the room set up for future generations of Sewanee students to come. Being able to leave a positive mark on the station, something with lasting effects is definitely my ultimate goal. The station has been through a lot during my three years here. We’re trying to put our best foot forward despite any challenges we may face.”