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What makes a community radio music program great?

NFCBThe National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ 36th Annual Community Radio Conference is coming up in San Francisco. It will run from Wednesday, June 1, through Saturday. Among the workshops and panels is a Friday session titled “Great Music Programs,” in which three great music programmers will talk about how to make them happen. They are Florence Hernandez-Ramos of Denver’s Latino Public Radio Consortium, Anthony Bonet of KALX-FM in Berkeley, and Bonnie Simmons of KPFA-FM, located in that same city. The panel will be moderated by the author of this article.

The discussion comes at an interesting time. The New York Times reports that Dan Mason, CEO of CBS Radio, has admonished his network’s deejays to more regularly identify the songs by artist and title that they’re playing on CBS’s 130 United States-based stations.

“When you play it, say it,” goes Mr. Mason’s new slogan. “It just makes sense.”

Here at Radio Survivor we’ve been saying that it makes sense for a long time. But the fact that a CBS executive has to order his minions to do it says worlds about how dehumanized much of radio has become. When it comes to commercial streaming music, listeners for the most part have two choices. They can listen to voiceless AM/FM, or they can listen to voiceless Internet/mobile/satellite audio. Both have their virtues, but the presence of engaging live human beings usually isn’t one of them.

Today, if consumers want to hear interesting, unexpected music accompanied by interesting discussion, one place they can go is the community/college radio end of the FM dial. But making a community/college radio music show shine isn’t always easy. How much talking is too much? How much newer versus older music should you play? How do you get to know and grow your audience? What works? What doesn’t? Flo, Anthony, and Bonnie will offer their wisdom, based on years of experience.

This year’s NFCB conference is packed with great stuff. Another must-attend panel is titled “Saving College Stations.” Here is its description:

WRTU and KUSF are two college/student stations that recently were sold/taken over by a larger public radio station—with the help of Public Radio Capital.  KPFT, WFMU and WHUS have all been involved in efforts to either save themselves or help other stations.  The bottom line for many colleges and universities is the bottom line, and lovers of these stations should prepare themselves for what might be the inevitable chopping block.  The point of this session is that you can prepare and our panelists will help you do it.

The guests include Duane Bradley (KPFT, Houston, TX), Ken Freedman (WFMU, Jersey City, NJ), Marc Hand (Public Radio Capital, Denver, CO), Dorothy Kidd (University of San Francisco), and John Murphy (WHUS, Storrs, CT). The moderator is Elizabeth Robinson of KCSB in Santa Barbara.

There’s also a panel on reaching out to your audience with mobile radio, and a discussion on how college/community stations can encourage students to stay in school. There’s a conversation scheduled about the best fundraising strategies for rural and reservation communities. And there will be tons of advice on legal issues, especially dealing with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Great panels galore for four days. All the information you need to register and attend the NFCB conference is here.

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One Response to What makes a community radio music program great?

  1. Tracy Rosenberg May 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Some might also be interested in this allied event (free and open to conference attendees and non-attendees alike)

    Radio Summer


    Saturday June 4, 2011 3:30pm – 5:30pm

    San Francisco Public Library

    Hispanic/Latino Meeting Room

    100 Larkin Street at Market

    The 2010 passage of the Local Community Radio Act was the culmination of

    two decades of organizing to free up a slice of the airwaves for the voice

    of the people.

    In the upcoming year, we’ll be looking at the opening of the first

    historic window for hundreds of new local radio stations to come to life

    in suburban and urban neighborhoods across the country,

    Is the Bay Area ready?

    Come to this free fun workshop to hear the latest on what low-power radio

    is and can do for your neighborhood, how to develop an application, what

    resources are available to help community organizations that want to

    consider a low-power station, and challenges that lie ahead in making

    low-power FM a part of the solution to the screwed-up media system we know has to be better.

    With: Vanessa Graber, Community Radio Director, Prometheus Radio Project

    Todd Urick, Technical Director, Common Frequency

    Susan Galleymore, Raising Sand Radio and Alameda LPFM Project

    Moderated by Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance

    Co-Sponsored by:

    Prometheus Radio Project

    Media Alliance

    National Lawyers Guild Committee on Democratic Communications

    Common Frequency

    National Federation of Community Broadcasters

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