Shack decommissioned; KDUP still on the air

By Will Mulligan | September 24, 2020 12:28pm

The "Shack", former home to KDUP, is closing its doors due to mold and deterioration.

Media Credit: Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

KDUP’s “Shack,” the old house where students have hosted radio shows for more than 30 years, is shutting down because of mold and general deterioration. KDUP, however, is still operating and will move into Orrico Hall, the former space of Career Services. According to Director of Student Activities Jeromy Koffler, Physical Plant discovered mold in several different areas throughout the building during a routine health and safety check before the fall semester.

Currently, no one without authorization can enter the building. The mold is pervasive enough that those who are allowed to enter must wear protective equipment.

The small house behind St. Mary’s was purchased from the Holy Cross Parish by the University in 1949 to house cooks working at the Commons. It became the home of various other campus staff until finally KDUP acquired the space in 1986. The building is one of the oldest on campus and has gradually fallen into a state of disrepair.

According to Koffler, the house lacks ADA accessibility and, due to plumbing issues from a past renovation, lacks any restroom facilities. These issues, coupled with the building's advanced age, made maintaining the building too costly to justify.

“It's not necessarily a building that the University wanted to maintain or renovate,” Koffler said. “I think it was something that we kind of hung on to as long as we possibly could. And now that it has degraded to this point with the mold, we’re just going to take it offline completely.”

Though the administration does plan to demolish the building at some point, there is no set date yet.

Given the lack of students on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the house has not seen use since the 2020 Spring semester. But the radio station once housed inside hasn’t cut the music yet.

KDUP and Physical Plant staff will be moving the necessary equipment to Orrico Hall some time in the next two weeks, according to Megan Lacy, KDUP’s general manager. It is currently unknown whether they will use the space for broadcasting and hosting shows.

“For now we’re just going to have staff in there to hold office hours and have a workspace for staff members that are in the Portland area,” Lacy said. “With COVID and multiple people being in one space, we want to be super cautious about that.”

Although KDUP at one point had an AM radio antennae, the shows have been broadcast online since 2000, making it possible for the station to continue operations this semester.

As UP has transitioned to online programs like Zoom and Microsoft teams for online classes, KDUP has adapted in a similar way. The organization recently began using the online streaming platform Twitch to host shows every week.

“People are hosting shows from their personal computers, that’s the only difference really,” Lacy said.

Despite the online environment, KDUP has maintained a variety of formats for student shows. The shows span a wide variety of subjects and genres, from music oriented shows focusing on rap or country music, to more socially oriented subjects like LGBTQ+, BIPOC and Latinx topics.

“KDUP really is a great place for self expression,” Lacy said. “People can go and host their show and share what they want to share. Music is a very personal and emotional thing. So people can log on and share what's resonating with them, they can talk about whatever they want to talk about, and just kind of have their voices heard.”

DJs from all walks of life have broadcasted their shows from the Shack and had the chance to connect with the historic building. 

“The Shack is a home,” said Emmie Davis, a former KDUP DJ. “Doesn't matter if you've been in KDUP for two weeks or four years. It's a great place just to be, and it was one of my favorite things when I did my show.”

There is a strong connection between the Shack itself and the students that use the space. One room of the house has a ceiling covered in vinyl records. Another has DJs names written on the walls and ceiling.

“It's just been very curated over the past years of staff that have come in there and hosted shows and hosted concerts and whatnot, “ Lacy said. “So just being able to go in there and see all that and like how KDUP has evolved throughout the years, and all the character that's in that space is going to be sad to not see every day.”

The history of KDUP is ingrained in the Shack itself, according to KDUP members.

“It's just like this wacky amalgamation of quirky people who love something and they just, like, put it all together and over time it just created what it is,” Davis said.

Despite the Shack’s history and appeal, Koffler feels the decision to decommission the building was the right one.

“There's a lot of fun memories with that building and it's a sad day, but I think it was a good decision to close it down,” Koffler said.

KDUP is broadcasting at this link, and will continue to do so throughout the semester. 

“It’s bittersweet,” Lacy said, “I’m hoping we can move into the Career Center temporarily just to function, and then hopefully move to a space where we can strike that balance of having a communal space, but also a functioning space.”

Will Mulligan is a reporter for the Beacon. He can be reached at