I spend a lot of time fretting over the future of college radio and have been particularly distressed by the very recent sale of the license for Rice University’s student radio station KTRU, the pending sale of the license for University of San Francisco station KUSF, and the possible sale of WRVU at Vanderbilt University.
I also must mention KTXT at Texas Tech, as that student station’s shut-down without warning in December 2008 was one of the first station shutdowns that I reported on (although KTXT still remains with its home university, it is now run by its public radio station KOHM). As a college radio fanatic and DJ I was terrified by that story and, unfortunately, continue to be alarmed by the growing list of stations in similar situations.
Although there’s been a ton of great work spreading the word about the plight of college radio from the people fighting station sales at all of the stations listed above; up until this point I hadn’t heard much from any of the college radio organizations. College Broadcasters Inc. (CBI) has run a few articles on its website about station sales. In addition to running articles about the situations at both KUSF and WRVU, CMJ also helped promote the efforts of Save KUSF through donated banner ads. But, I’d been wondering why CBI, Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS), and Broadcast Education Association (BEA) hadn’t officially voiced their organizations’ displeasure about stations getting sold off.
Well, today was a very good Friday (couldn’t resist), as Candace Walton, the President of the Board of Directors of CBI sent word that CBI is organizing a national Minute of Silence in order to bring attention to the impact of college radio station sales. The Minute of Silence will take place this Thursday, April 28th at 12noon Central (10am Pacific/1pm Eastern) at college radio stations all over the United States.
April 28th was chosen for this protest, as it is the day that the license for Rice University’s college radio station KTRU is expected to transfer to University of Houston for use as a public radio station. According to Candace,
“The goal of the moment of silence is to bring awareness of the deep impact that the sale of a student radio station has on a college and its community. While it is too late to save KTRU (Rice), KTXT (Texas Tech), and KAUR (Augustana in Sioux Falls, SD), people who have benefited from college radio must step up and call on the Federal Communications Commission to reassess what it means by localism in content.”
Candace added that when colleges sell off their radio stations they are getting rid of an irreplaceable asset. She said,
“Personally, I believe administrators that sell their radio signals are demonstrating a short-sighted approach to fundraising. Everyone knows that you don’t sell property that you can never replace. When KTRU leaves Rice’s hands next Thursday, Rice will never be able to replace it.”
Candace said that this grassroots event is open to all interested radio stations. She said that she’d like to hear which stations are participating and what their plans are for the Minute of Silence. CBI is suggesting that stations air a minute of silence immediately following their top of the hour legal ID.
Since the event was just announced today, there still isn’t any word on participating stations (although I do know that a few of my local stations, KZSU at Stanford University and KUSF in Exile, have agreed to participate). Other interested stations should email Candace Walton at cwalton AT usd DOT edu.
In addition to the College Radio Minute of Silence on April 28, a few other “Saving College Radio”-specific events have happened recently, including the 15-station radio simulcast featuring KUSF DJs and a “How to Save College Radio” panel at SXSW in March (you can listen to it here or view it here). Several other events are coming up, including:
Saturday, April 23rd: Common Frequency panel “Whose Stations? Our Stations! Community Voices, Educational Radio, and KUSF in Exile” in Davis, CA
The non-profit Common Frequency, which is devoted to helping people establish grassroots radio stations, will be hosting a benefit event tomorrow night (Saturday, April 23), which will include a panel about the threat to college radio and the efforts of Save KUSF to help prevent the sale of KUSF. The free event will take place in Davis, California starting at 6:30pm Pacific time and will also be available to out-of-towners via a webcast that begins at 7:15pm Pacific time.
Saturday, April 30th: University of California Radio Network conference, Santa Barbara, CA
This gathering of University of California-affiliated radio stations will feature both a keynote and some workshop discussions about the situation at KUSF and about the future of college radio.
Saturday, June 4th: National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ Community Radio Conference, San Francisco, CA
During NFCB’s National Community Radio Conference, there will be a panel at 9am on Saturday, June 1st focused on “Saving College Stations.” Not only will college and community radio stations like WFMU, KUSF, WHUS, and KPFT be featured on the panel; but a representative from Public Radio Capital (the organization behind many recent college radio station purchases by public radio groups) will also be in attendance.
Hopefully in the weeks to come we’ll be able to add even more events (perhaps panels at conferences hosted by CBI, IBS, BEA and CMJ?). If you know of something that I missed, please include it in the comments. Also, if your station has plans for the Minute of Silence, I’d love to hear about that too.