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College Radio Watch: New LPFMs, Vastly Different Stations at Columbia, Radio’s Role in Music Business + More News

In this week’s Radio Survivor Bulletin (are you subscribed yet?), I wrote an extended piece about college radio in the 1970s. At the time, campus-only carrier current stations were HUGE and some large universities even had multiple stations serving different dorms. The music industry was taking notice of college radio and a 1971 Billboard article marveled that up to 40 to 50% of students on campus tuned in to their college radio stations.

College Radio and the Music Industry

My colleague Matthew also opined about college radio after immersing himself in the music biz at SXSW. In his piece about whether young musicians see the value of terrestrial radio, he writes that college radio may be the one aspect of AM/FM radio that musicians still see as a beneficial music outlet. He writes,

People with whom I spoke did acknowledge one kind of FM to which they felt they still had access: college radio. Both that hip hop producer with whom I enjoyed tacos and a young middle school teacher at the hip hop panel praised college radio as available and accessible. The teacher mentioned that his music had been repeatedly played on a college radio outlet in his town. But both also suggested that college radio was exceptional—very different from the commercial version, where they see far more promotional potential.”

Similarly, Fox News host Greg Gutfield also did some post-SXSW pontification this week, waxing nostalgic about his teen years, when college radio was more widely recognized as a place for music discovery. Gutfield name checks several San Francisco Bay Area college radio stations, saying,

I spent my teens in northern California listening to KALX, KUSF, and KFJC finding people that changed my life. Back in the 80’s – Howie Klein’s Outcast show – I think [it] was on  KSJO – offered 2 or 3 hour window to a world that wasn’t Jefferson Starship or Asia. I discovered British punk, then SF punk (the DK’s the Mutants, the Bobs, Tuxedomoon,  etc), and LA (X, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks). It’s how I found the Cramps –  in my mind one of the purest rock bands to crawl the earth. I had called Klein one night to ask him how I could hire the cramps for my high school dance. He was shocked anyone would think of the idea, and told me it would probably cost five grand that I didn’t have. I think I went with a band called the Push.

How do you trigger that emotion of raw discovery now? How do you find these bands? And how do bands make money now that the public can’t find them?”

Interesting questions…but many of us would argue that college radio is still a vital source for music discovery. What do you think?

In other college radio news this week:

More College Radio Stations Launching Online and Over LPFM

RadioUTD to go LPFM

In yesterday’s LPFM Watch I reported that University of Texas at Dallas will soon be launching a new low power FM (LPFM) radio station. The project is a collaboration between the student amateur radio club and the streaming student radio station RadioUTD.

New LPFM Station Launches at Forsyth Tech

WFOZ-LP is now broadcasting at 105.1 FM from Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Yes! Weekly reports that, “The station will operate as mixed format, which is an amalgamation of genres including country, classic rock, rhythm and blues, and some other specialty shows like an all vinyl show that will cater to the audiophiles of old.” The student-run station launched on March 23, 2015.

Laney College’s Student Radio Station 9th Floor Radio will Launch LPFM in July

In Oakland, California, Laney College students are preparing to launch a new LPFM station this summer. Currently an online radio station, 9th Floor Radio, is gearing up for its terrestrial future over 96.9FM, according to the Laney Tower.

Merrimack College will have Online Radio Station this Fall

The Beacon reports that Merrimack College is preparing to launch an Internet radio station this fall. According to the piece, “Professor Jake Turner and senior Lisa Vassallo have teamed up to give students the chance to control playlists they want to hear at the station. In the near future, students can join the Radio Club and Radio Production class to determine the music and content featured on the station.”

Station Profiles in NY, MA, IL, RI, and VA

WKCR and WBAR: Vastly Different Stations at Columbia University

The Columbia Spectator ran a story this week about Columbia College station WKCR-FM and Barnard College station WBAR. As is often the case when there are multiple stations in a college community, both have distinct identities. Whereas WKCR has professional equipment and is tightly formatted, WBAR is a freeform radio station housed in a dorm basement (read more about WBAR in my field trip post from 2009). According to the piece,

Despite having vastly different systems and ideas for sharing music, both WBAR and WKCR are committed to a common goal—providing a space where lesser-known music can be listened to and appreciated—and both seem to be having trouble finding a strong listener base within the Columbia community. However, this doesn’t stop either of them from doing what they love: listening to, sharing, and learning about music.”

University of Rhode Island Station’s Legacy of Hip Hop Programming

Providence Monthly delves into WRIU-FM‘s long-time hip hop programming. According to the piece, “…the hallowed halls of URI’s Student Union, where WRIU’s studios occupy a couple of rundown rooms on the third floor, have been a haven for generations of hip-hop artists and audiences in Rhode Island. ‘This is a torch that has been passed since people like Curty Cut way back in the day,’ says DJ Nook, the station’s current hip-hop program director and co-host of ‘Real Rap Radio,’ of the five precious three-hour time slots that make up WRIU’s hip-hop roster.”

A Glimpse at mtvU Woodie Nominee WTBU at Boston University

BU Today gave a preview of the mtvU Woodie Awards in which it also profiled nominated station WTBU. More than 200 DJs participate at the Boston University station, which has also been named College Radio Station of the Year by CMJ. See my 2014 field trip to WTBU on Spinning Indie.

WLKL-FM Turns 40

Lake Land College station WLKL-FM in Mattoon, Illinois is celebrating 40 years on the air. The Effingham Daily News writes that, “…students of the program of every age tout its usefulness. [Former student Randy] Miller said equipment at the station started very modestly, much of which is now displayed in a museum in the Northwest building on the campus.”

James Madison University’s WXJM Turns 25

The Breeze profiles James Madison University’s WXJM-FM in Harrisonburg, Virginia, not only highlighting the station’s 25th anniversary, but also pointing out some recent accolades, including nominations for CMJ’s Station of the Year and for an mtvU Woodie. According to the article,

…WXJM is full of all different types of students with many different majors and backgrounds. The station is currently garage-rock oriented, but is always looking for change and progression. Weekly shows include many different genres. ‘It’s like sending your own musical love letter to the town and the college,’ [General Manager Kelly] Carlin said.”

WCWM-FM at the College of William & Mary

After reading that the College of William & Mary’s 56-year old radio station WCWM-FM in Williamsburg, Virginia is not only housed in an old bowling alley, but that it is also embarking on a project to digitize its vinyl collection, I am adding it to my list of “must-visit” stations. A profile of the station on the school’s website reveals that the station has around 60 DJs in addition to 200 DJs in training. In addition to its on-air activities, WCWM also hosts concerts and publishes the magazine Vinyl Tap. The accompanying video provides more station flavor:

College Radio Award Winners + CBI Opens Submissions for its Awards

WONC-FM at North Central College Named Best College Radio Station at IBS

On Monday I visited WONC-FM at North Central College and the staff was beaming about its latest accolade from IBS, naming WONC the best college radio station in the country. The Chicago Tribune published a feature about the station this week and I will share my own field trip report soon.

University of Pittsburgh station WPTS-FM wins mtvU College Radio Woodie Award

University of Pittsburgh’s WPTS-FM won the 2015 mtvU College Radio Woodie Award during SXSW on March 20. After being named one of the ten finalist stations, it won the award based on online votes.

More College Radio Awards for WUEC-FM

A number of broadcasting competitions have recently recognized student radio stations. The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association gave an award to University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire station WUEC-FM (aka Blugold Radio) for best student newscast, according to the Leader-Telegram.

CBI Accepting Submissions for Annual Student Production Awards

College Broadcasters Inc. (CBI) announced that student broadcasters can submit materials to the organization’s annual National Student Production Awards. Submissions must be created by students and are due to CBI via an online application process by May 15, 2015. Winners will be announced at CBI’s annual convention in Minneapolis this October.

KTJO-FM Penalized for Various Violations

Radio World reported on a recent Consent Decree issued to Ottawa University’s student radio station KTJO-FM in Ottawa, Kansas. Because of various violations related to the station’s public file as well as missing ownership reports and EAS equipment issues, the school has agreed to a Consent Decree which will mean a $12,000 penalty. According to Radio World, “During periods of 2009 and 2010, the station was silent without commission permission and was not EAS CAP-compliant on June 30, 2012, because some equipment it had ordered was ‘misplaced,’ according to the agency’s decision. The EAS gear was later reordered and installed.” Although KTJO-FM got a bit of a break since it’s a student-run radio station, this is still a pretty hefty fine! Read the full Consent Decree on the FCC website.

BEA Announces Schedule for Annual Conference in Las Vegas

Academic media organization, BEA, has announced the schedule for its annual convention, which is held in conjunction with the NAB Show in Las Vegas April 12 to 15. Some of the radio and audio sessions include a roundtable discussion about “The State of the Radio Industry 2015,” “Your College Radio Station: Programming, Promoting and Recruiting,” “Any Way You Run It: College Radio and the Future of the Industry,” and more.

We cover the culture of college radio every Friday in our College Radio Watch feature. If you have college radio news to share, please drop us a note at EDITORS at RADIOSURVIVOR dot COM.


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