Delta State University is striking a new note campus-wide thanks to a project coined “Music Across Campus: Connecting the Delta State University Family and Campus with Music.”
Music Across Campus features the installation of 28 speakers strategically placed around campus that will feed music, programming and announcements from the university’s radio station, WDSW-LP 88.1 FM.
President William N. LaForge, who envisioned the project, turned on the speakers for the first time at the university’s annual Spring Fest festivities on April 12. Fittingly, the first song played was “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones. As LaForge officially turned the speakers on, he was joined on stage by student, faculty, staff and community members involved with the music scene at Delta State.
The speakers are realistic recreations of rocks that blend in with campus surroundings. The goal is to provide musical enjoyment for everyone walking Delta State’s campus.
President LaForge and First lady Nancy LaForge graciously donated funding to pay for the speakers to help cement Delta State’s identity as a music-centric institution.
“Nancy and I think that the Music Across Campus concept is a great way to underscore and highlight our music-centric nature at Delta State,” said LaForge. “So we are personally supporting this project as something that will be available for all to enjoy.”
LaForge’s initial idea for the project stemmed from his experience teaching as a Fulbright Fellow at Perm State University in Perm, Russia. Perm State broadcasts music from the campus radio station to locations throughout the grounds of the campus, much like the musical presence heard throughout malls and theme parks across America.
LaForge has helped boost Delta State’s musical identity by enhancing signature programs like the Delta Music Institute, Department of Music, Bologna Performing Arts Center, International Conference on the Blues — and in addition, hosting GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi on campus, which tributes Mississippi as the birthplace of American Music.
Delta State’s Office of Information Technology and Facilities Management helped install the speakers in various locations so the sounds can be heard by a wide campus audience.
Edwin Craft, Chief Information Officer for OIT, said the concept of a campus-wide system was intriguing because deploying and interfacing the speakers on a large scale required an innovative design to meet the needs of the university.
“Each speaker is specially designed to be controlled from our wireless network, making this the first IoT —Internet of Things — in our area,” said Craft. “The system is very unique, in that it was designed to operate wirelessly for both the audio and control of each device. The only wire needed for the speakers was power, and we are thankful to have a great Facilities department on campus that was able to provide the power at each location.”
Ashley Griffin, Student Government Association president at Delta State, said the music would make walking across campus more enjoyable for everyone.
“I think that we can all associate with music,” said Griffin. “For each of us, there is probably a special song that makes us smile each day. I think as students, faculty, staff and guests pass by, it will make their day brighter and more fulfilling. Besides food, music is the key to the soul, especially in the Mississippi Delta.”
“These speakers will definitely liven the campus,” she added. “Students will sit outside during the day and enjoy each other. Delta State has signature music programs, and through the addition of Music Across Campus, it gives another outlet for artists on campus to broadcast their music.”
In addition to playing music, the speakers will also broadcast occasional announcements, keeping people informed of campus events and programming. In emergency situations, they will also be able to provide emergency notices.
“I hope Music Across Campus is a fun addition to our Delta State culture and family,” added LaForge.
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