Home Folks at Noke Humans of RC: The Voice of Roanoke, Elijah Wilhelm

Humans of RC: The Voice of Roanoke, Elijah Wilhelm


Written by Shamira James

Elijah Wilhelm is senior at Roanoke College from Roanoke. He is majoring in Communications Studies and is currently the Program Director for the RC’s radio station, WRKE. With his voice being the most recognizable on air, at sporting events or even herding together the masses for the 175th Anniversary photo, he has quickly become the voice of Roanoke College.  

“I never planned on coming to Roanoke in the first place. I applied to here on my class’s move-in day and I signed up for classes during Convocation. I came here as a theater design major. I wanted to do lighting for theaters and concerts and stuff like that. Since I had never even been here before move-in day, I had no idea what this campus had to offer. A few weeks into the semester we were on set for the first show of the year and one of the girls who I worked with said she had to leave to go do her radio show. I thought she was lying but no, she told us she had a show on campus and I thought that was really cool.

I had done announcing in high school with daily announcements but I never took it further than that. I tuned into her show and I thought, ‘okay well, I could do this,’ despite being nervous about. I knew I could see myself doing it. Next thing I knew, I was one of around around 8 people with a show.

I did my first show and I hated it. I was just me staring out of a window picking up sounds of lawn mowers and people swearing outside for an hour while I attempted to talk about news. So, I got my friend Christa Waterwiese to be my co-host. Then Rick Mattioni, the faculty advisor, reached out to me, and eventually I was hired as the News and Information recorder.

On my fifth or sixth week of being on the station the entire radio staff had gotten an email asking if one of us could fill in for the student who did the game announcing, because he was sick. I jumped at the opportunity, but it was for a men’s lacrosse game which I had never seen before. I had to have someone whispering in my ear the entire time making sure I was saying the right things. Now between Roanoke College, Salem Red Sox, Salem Civic Center and Salem High School I do about 180 shows a year. I’ve been able to grow with it and perfect my craft and just get more comfortable with it.

I think over the years, people have been interested in WRKE because of the product we put out. We’re creating something to be apart of. You can take your own initiative on it and truly make it your own.I’ve seen a lot of improvement and attention go towards media as a whole here on campus. We’ve gotten to be involved in so many great things and increase our numbers because of interest and exposure. The Brackety-Ack in the past year has changed so much. There’s a new design and they’re doing interesting stories that people actually get excited for. It’s about time and effort and doing your job.”

“When I started getting into the station I wanted to do on-air stuff because it seemed so cool. Whether it was radio or TV that’s what I wanted but the moire involved I got, the more I enjoyed the behind the scenes aspect of it. Producing, directing and management became something I loved. So I’m less sure but also, in a way almost more sure because while I don’t know exactly what I want to do in broadcasting, I also don’t really care because I found out I enjoy all of it and I can make it work.