In the past few weeks a number of college radio participants have written pieces for their local papers reflecting not only on the current challenges facing college radio, but also on the ongoing relevance of their stations.
I’d agree that 2011 has been a rough year for college radio, with a number of stations disappearing from the dial. But at the same time, energized college radio supporters have also made great strides. New stations have been launched, others are expanding their broadcast range, and fans are working hard to get the word out about the important role that college radio plays in both campus culture and in music culture.
After doing a quick canvassing of the scene, I’ve come across a handful of stories about the state of college radio on a variety of campuses across the United States. For the most part, it would seem that things are looking up for college radio:
KCSC at Chico State Moving to New Digs: The California State University, Chico radio station, KCSC, is moving into a new location in its student union after some challenges at its old home adjacent to a bar. According to an article in The Orion, “The previous facility was small and old, and several incidents have shown it is not the safest location for a student radio station.” The internet-only station is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
California Lutheran University to Launch Online-Only Station: Set to launch in the Spring, California Lutheran University’s iCLUradio will be an Internet-only student radio station at the private university in Thousand Oaks, California. The university actually owns public radio stations KCLU-FM and KCLU-AM (which it bought from a commercial radio group) but hasn’t had a student station for several decades.
KCSS To Expand Coverage of College Station in Stanislaus: California State University, Stanislaus’ college radio station KCSS 91.9 FM is set to expand its coverage with a new 6,000 watt transmitter and antenna. Currently broadcasting in Turlock, it will soon be heard in Modesto and Merced. The station plays a range of sounds, including video game music, blues, hip hop, and Japanese and Korean rock.
KPNI Struggles to Survive at Southern Methodist University: Although college radio has been part of campus life since 1947, the SMU radio station (formerly known as KSMU) has struggled throughout its entire existence. With basically no budget and ongoing technological challenges, KPNI has been off the air since August. When you visit the station’s website, there’s this sad message: “Currently streaming is down : ( So is the website : ( We’re working on it”
Call for Greater Student Involvement at WWCU: Alumni of Western Carolina University radio station WWCU are calling for changes at the formerly student-run station, asking for increased student involvement. Alumni of the FM station (which has been around since 1977, although radio began on campus in 1947 with an AM station) started the Facebook page Friends for a Better WWCU and are calling for the “return of student-elected management” as well as an increase in student DJs.
College Radio Still Vital at WUOG: A student DJ at University of Georgia wrote an opinion piece decrying the loss of stations like WRVU and expressing the importance of maintaining stations like WUOG. She writes, “And in today’s times of economic duress, as budget cuts loom and frequency pickings are slim, all college radio stations are susceptible to scenarios like WRVU’s. As a result, it is particularly imperative to preserve the state of WUOG, our own University station. Not only does it offer those interested in a career in broadcasting hands-on opportunities and training, but WUOG also works to promote local music, organizations and events. It plays an integral role in Athens culture.”
WXJM DJ Appeals to College Radio Listeners to Speak Out: In a first-person account of what it’s like to be a DJ, a WXJM volunteer shares her view on the state of college radio and why it’s worth preserving. Heidi Smith writes about her experiences at the James Madison University FM station, saying, “The radio station has been my home for four years and provided me with a family of independent music lovers. Because it has had such a huge impact on my life, the most heartbreaking incident to occur would be that WXJM would lose its frequency license and be dissolved.” She concludes her essay saying, “I want other future members of college radio to find the same welcoming home and outlet I did. You, as listeners and supporters, have power. It’s as simple as turning the dial. Let your administration know that your station is important to you.”
WMEB Launching New Program to Share Stories of Local Residents: In a nod to “This American Life,” University of Maine’s college radio station WMEB has a new show devoted to stories about everyday people. The half-hour program, “Looking Around” premiered on Monday night and will “look at community roots and the tales of the people who tend to them.” The show airs Monday and Friday nights at 6pm.
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