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college radio station Bellarmine Radio studio, including a couch

College Radio Watch: College Radio’s Influence on Music Biz, WLUW Axes Some Community Shows, and More News

As I wrote in LPFM Watch yesterday, it’s thrilling to see the increasing number of college radio stations with new low power FM (LPFM) construction permits. With the addition of Reed College and Drury University this week, that brings the total number of granted LPFM construction permits for colleges and universities (from the 2013 application window) to 76. Also this week, I wrote up another college radio station visit, this time to Bellarmine University’s streaming radio station Bellarmine Radio in Louisville, Kentucky.

Radio Survivor readers with an interest in college radio probably remember our extensive coverage of the shutdown of University of San Francisco’s FM radio station KUSF-FM back in 2011. The group that ultimately purchased the KUSF 90.3 FM license, Classical Public Radio Network, is potentially expanding south into Santa Cruz.

Matthew reports that Santa Cruz public radio station KUSP’s board, staff, and volunteers have voted to pursue selling the station’s FM license to Classical Public Radio Network. In addition to owning the license for the old KUSF-FM (now KOSC-FM) in San Francisco and the old KNDL 89.9 FM (now KDFC) in Angwin (north of San Francisco), Classical Public Radio Network also purchased the license for San Jose radio station KNCL-FM (now KXSC-FM) back in 2012. It currently airs KDFC-branded programming on all of these stations, as well as on translator stations in Mendocino County and in Los Gatos.

In other college radio news:

Radio’s Mainstream Present and Colorful Past at Grand Valley State

Revue writes this week about the ever-changing nature of college radio at Grand Valley State University. A fan of college radio history, I enjoyed reading that,

For almost a decade, radio station WSRX broadcasted from the basement of the student center at Grand Valley State University — then Grand Valley State College. Lore has it that one enterprising and curious young man once took a hit or three of LSD and put in a 48-hour stint as deejay.

He was one of the responsible ones at the student radio station.

From the mid-70s until 1982, Grand Rapids had a genuine underground station in WSRX, although you could barely hear its 10 watts much past Standale. DJs routinely missed their shifts if the party they were at was really happening, whole album sides were played, and pot was smoked.”

Sadly that station transitioned into NPR affiliate WGVU-FM. Student radio has been revived with the Internet station WCKS. Revue writes that “WCKS is not the reckless, adventurous blast of past college radio…Instead, the station plays from a rotation of 5,000 songs that includes acts like Eminem, the Doobie Brothers, Jay Z, Shakira and Springsteen. It’s a mainstream listener’s dream and a purist’s nightmare.”

Reflecting Back on College Radio in New York in the New Wave and Punk Era

Red Bull Music Academy recently published a couple of fascinating features about New York Radio in the 1970s and 1980s. In Left of the Dial: The Evolution of Punk, New Wave, and Indie on American Radio, Ira Robbins gives credit to college radio for its role in the music underground. Robbins writes,

By the early ’80s, student DJs flipped the switch on a new kind of DIY industry. College radio was the electronic beacon of that new infrastructure, spreading the word and transmitting a sense of community and purpose. Young musical strivers could drive all night in a rusty van to play a gig that might cost them money, but with a few spins on a college radio show at least they could hear that the effort meant something to people.

Although their broadcast signals were often small and local, college radio offered a crucial assist to bands as diverse as R.E.M, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, the Replacements, Minor Threat, the Dream Syndicate, Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Los Lobos, and the Violent Femmes. One memorable program emanated from New York University, where future journalist, MTV personality, musician, and label executive Tim Sommer literally screamed his way through ‘Noise, the Show,’ a weekly blast of hardcore that helped launch the Beastie Boys’ career.”

Red Bull Music Academy is hosting a roundtable discussion about New York radio on May 27th at its Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York.

Loyola’s WLUW Eliminates some Community Programs

The Chicago Tribune reports that Loyola University’s college radio station WLUW-FM has eliminated some community programs and is replacing them with student-run music shows. Radio Survivor readers may recall that there was a period of time when Chicago’s WLUW was run by community members. After the school eliminated funding for the station, it was run by Chicago Public Radio from 2002 until 2007. By 2008, the school took back control of the station, making it more student-focused. Some of the community members who ran the station left and went on to form the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP), which was recently granted a LPFM construction permit.

Since 2008, WLUW has carried a mix of student-run and community member-run programs (see my station tour from 2012 to get more details). According to the Tribune,

An overhaul of programming designed to increase the role of students at Loyola University’s  WLUW FM 88.7 will reduce or eliminate some of the station’s longest running community-based talk shows. Among the casualties is Jerry Mead-Lucero’s ‘Labor Express Radio,’ billed as ‘Chicago’s only labor news and current affairs radio program,’ which has aired weekly on the nonprofit station since 1993. Others cancellations include Jacob Briskman’s ‘Logic Consortium,’ Doug Williams’ ‘Azan’ and Mitchell Szczepanczyk’s ‘From The Trenches.'”

CMJ interviewed a trio of WLUW managers this week about these changes. According to WLUW Programming Director Sam Israel,

Our programming currently consists of 40 student shows, 40 non-student shows and Vocalo’s ‘Morning Amp,’ a daily morning show which is produced at the WBEZ studios with the help of student interns from Loyola University. We tried to make weekend programming more consistent by removing some community-run talk programs that were biweekly and monthly from 6-9 p.m. on Sundays. We’ve replaced them by adding more student-run music programming that aligns with our independent music format. However, we continue to air community-run talk programs in the mornings, seven days a week so we can still offer this platform to our listeners.”

Revisiting the UCRN Conference

Folks from Laney College’s 9th Floor Radio (see my station tour here) traveled to this spring’s UCRN (University of California Radio Network) conference at KALX-FM at UC Berkeley and produced this video capturing some of the highlights.

Fundraising Campaign Underway to Rebuild University of Liberia Radio Station

University of Liberia’s radio station Lux FM was destroyed by fire in March. It’s hoped that the station can be rebuilt and a crowdfunding campaign is currently underway. According to its IndieGogo site, “On March 21, a fire raced through the University of Liberia’s radio station.  The blaze gutted the building and destroyed every single piece of equipment: microphones, recorders, computers, a mixing board, furniture, and the station’s transmitter.  Even the station’s walls cracked, leaving the building structurally unsound and unusable.  The timing couldn’t have been worse: the university had just reopened following a months-long closure due to the Ebola epidemic.  It was a devastating blow for staff and listeners alike.”

TMZ’s Harvey Levin Recounts His College Radio Days at KCSB

On campus for an event a few weeks back, TMZ’s Harvey Levin shared an anecdote about being fired from UC Santa Barbara’s college radio station KCSB back in the late 1960s during a particularly intense time on campus.

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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