WKNC Thanks Audience for Donations in Support of Prison Books Collective

WKNC 88.1 FM recently partnered with Prison Books Collective to host a book drive. From March 15 to March 26 individuals could drop off books in labeled bins outside of WKNC’s studios on the NC State University campus.

Thanks to WKNC’s audience, the drive was able to collect 125 books for Prison Books Collective, a Carrboro-based nonprofit that distributes paperback books and zines to incarcerated people across North Carolina and Alabama. 

The collected books spanned a wide range of genres including Black history, biographies, self-help guides, legal texts, language dictionaries, and a multitude of science fiction of fantasy novels. More information on how Prison Books Collective serves incarcerated individuals, with the aid of community donations, can be found at

WKNC has its own relationship with the North Carolina prison system, as inmates across the state tune in every Friday night to listen to Penitentiary Rock. This segment broadcasts song requests mailed in from inmates to the show’s host, Uncle Paul. Uncle Paul not only plays the requests but reads inmate letters on-air, which has helped the development of the show’s popularity amongst inmates, who even use the show as a means to communicate with one another via shout-outs in their letters. Thus, a partnership between WKNC and Prison Books Collective seemed natural. WKNC is grateful to be able to give back to a community so often overlooked by mainstream media and one that has supported WKNC for decades. 

Within the pandemic in particular, these individuals have had little-to-no access to visitors and have faced increased restrictions placed on the small amount of literature that may be available in the prison. Ivy Shelton, Prison Books Collective’s Outreach Coordinator, commented that, “COVID-19 has limited the operations but, Prison Books Collective (PBC) has been working hard the past year to fulfill book requests. PBC has continued to send 35-45 packages of books on average a week to individuals based on letters of request. The book drive WKNC 88.1 is hosting makes PBC’s continued work possible. Paperback donations from the WKNC 88.1 book drive will make a difference in someone’s life.”

WKNC would like to thank the audience for their continued support, both for the station and the recent donation drives.

WKNC 88.1 FM is 25,000-watt student-run non-commercial radio from North Carolina State University featuring indie rock, electronic, metal and underground hip-hop. WKNC is on social media @WKNC881.

Non-Music News

A Letter to the Audience

To WKNC’s audience,

Beginning Jan. 18, WKNC will begin airing our Underground format for a full 24 hours each Monday. This will be in addition to the Saturday and Sunday night Underground blocks beginning at 6 p.m. and our one-hour segment of Local Rap Lunch on Monday at noon. The adjustment to our schedule comes as a response to a sit-in protest that was held in WKNC’s studio in November 1992. The protest called upon WKNC’s staff to devote prime-time hours to Magic 88 (hip-hop, R&B and rap) which at the time only played from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. As reported by Technician (see attached article), 65 students filled WKNC’s studio and lobby to demand these changes. Although the segment was renamed “Underground” and eventually moved up to 9 p.m., along with a new gospel block on Sundays, the request for daytime hours was left unfulfilled. Thus, when WKNC’s current staff learned of this protest we decided that action must be taken to answer this call. The legacy of this 95-minute sit-in will continue through every subsequent Monday, indefinitely, to finally give Underground the prime hours it deserves. 

Dawn Gordon, an organizer of the sit-in of 1992, stated in Technician’s article, “[WKNC] is funded by student fees, and it’s the purpose of all radio stations to serve the public, not just those who like rock.” Gordon was right in 1992 and is still correct today. Though WKNC prides itself in broadcasting a variety of genre formats we must recognize the disproportionate focus on indie and alternative music on our channels. It is our hope that this schedule adjustment will be a strong step towards accountability and a recognition of past mistakes. Within the music industry, Black artistry has historically and continuously been discarded, overlooked and appropriated, yet Black musicians have founded many of the genres we play on-air. We recognize that Black creators exist within all genres and corners of the industry. Expanding Underground is just one way we can respond to the call of protesters from almost three decades ago. 

We would like to thank Underground Music Directors Makayla Mack and Assistant Music Director Kyle Vosberg for their efforts to increase our Underground libraries while preparing for this expansion. Without their curation we could not broadcast, as we say, music that matters. Now more than ever, their work is actively making WKNC a station of which we can be proud. Further thanks also go to Technician for publishing this article, our audience for their continued listenership and to the 65 protesters for challenging us to represent the interests of all students. 


The Staff of WKNC