The big news on Radio Survivor this week is that we have launched the Radio Survivor Podcast (see Radio World’s interview with my colleague, Paul). As part of this project to add an audio component to our regular writing efforts, I will be preparing weekly commentary about the world of college radio.
In this week’s episode I discuss the importance of college radio history, going into detail about work at University of Maryland and at Princeton University’s WPRB. I also talk a bit about college radio funding and KFJC’s live broadcast from the Netherlands. You can catch the college radio portion of the podcast starting at around the 47 minute mark.
Radio Survivor’s Bulletin subscribers and our Patreon supporters got a sneak preview of our podcast, as they were the first to learn about it and were the first to hear last week’s pilot episode. In the pilot episode I give an overview of why I think college radio is so important to the broader media landscape.
And speaking of Patreon, I’d like to make a personal plea to all of you College Radio Watch readers. We are trying to grow our list of Patreon supporters and it would help tremendously if every reader donated $1 a month. It may seem like a small amount, but it all adds up and we could exceed our goals pretty quickly if we had a large number of small donors.
Inside Rollins College Station WPRK-FM in Winter Park, Florida
Since I can’t visit every college radio station in the country, I really enjoy running across college radio documentaries that give an insider’s tour of the inner-workings of a given radio station. This week, Greg Golden, the General Manager of Student Media at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida reached out to share a short 16-minute documentary from late 2014 about college radio station WPRK-FM.
The documentary is full of familiar college radio sights, including couches, walls of CDs, plastic U.S. mail tubs, as well as a mix of characters. One of the station staffers says, “you have to be a little bit of a nut” to be at the station. The station is made up of both students and community member DJs. One of my favorite moments is when Community Advisor Dave Plotkin recounts his introduction to the station at age 14. He tells a story about how he was listening to the station one night and heard a song playing over and over. He decided to head over to WPRK to investigate and found a DJ “passed out” on a turntable. After waking him up, he was asked, “Are you the next DJ?” His response was, “sure.”
According to the documentary, college radio started at Rollins in the 1920s with the launch of WDBO-AM in 1924. The station was only run by Rollins college for a few years and was donated to a local investment banker in 1926. After a few more ownership changes, WDBO-AM still exist today as an all-news station.
By the 1950s, WPRK-FM launched at Rollins College and the first words broadcast were from Dwight D. Eisenhower (you can hear those words in the documentary). I was also interested to learn in the documentary about an attempt to purchase the station around 2000 by public radio station WMFE. After station members mounted a Save WPRK effort, the takeover was halted. In 2012, the station celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Another interesting tidbit in the documentary is the scoop on a 110-hour radio marathon that WPRK DJ Dave Plotkin undertook in 2005. During the marathon show, nearly 100 bands played live on-air, a shower was installed in the studio, and Howard Stern even called in. Plotkin says in the documentary, “By day three, I was vividly hallucinating.”
Read more about WPRK in this spring 2015 piece posted on Rollins360 and view the documentary below.
KCPR to Become More Student-Oriented, with No More Community or Faculty DJs
The San Luis Obispo Tribune News is reporting that California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo’s college radio station KCPR is making changes that will eliminate non-student DJs. According to the article,
Starting this fall, Cal Poly faculty, staff and community members will no longer be heard on the airwaves of KCPR, the university’s student-run radio station. Instead, Cal Poly employees, station alumni and industry professionals will serve as coaches and mentors for student disc jockeys, said Mary Glick, chairwoman of the school’s journalism department, which oversees KCPR.”
Additionally, KCPR’s student DJs “will be required to take a newly created journalism class that covers the fundamentals of radio announcing, operations and management. And they’ll work with a newly appointed faculty adviser, rather than rely solely on training from their peers.”
These changes are coming about as a result of recommendations by an advisory group that was charged with plotting out ideas for the station’s future, according to the article. My assumption is that there was a lot of soul-searching at the station following questionable DJ antics last year and that some sort of restructuring was likely. Interestingly, when KCPR’s outgoing GM was interviewed by CMJ recently, these specific changes were not mentioned. I visited KCPR way back in 2008 and you can read more about that trip on Spinning Indie.
Saint Michael’s College Gives up WWPV in order to Launch LPFM Station
I was initially shocked to see today that Saint Michael’s College in Vermont’s license for college radio station WWPV 88.7 FM in Colchester, Vermont has been granted to Vermont Public Radio. Several years ago there was a huge Save WWPV campaign at Saint Michael’s to prevent WWPV from being sold to Vermont Public Radio. I wrote about these successful efforts to keep WWPV at St. Michael’s as a college radio station. In an interesting twist, less than a decade later, St. Michael’s College has donated the WWPV license to Vermont Public Radio, but that doesn’t mean that terrestrial college radio has died on campus.
It turns out that the school was granted a construction permit in February, 2014 to build a new low power FM (LPFM) station at 92.5 FM, so it must divest its WWPV license. According to its application filed with the FCC, “A pre-condition to operation of such LPFM is the divestiture of WWPV-FM…” The construction permit for building the new LPFM expires in August, so the station must get built soon.
According to Scott Fybush, WWPV is getting some help from Vermont Public Radio out of the deal. He writes, “St. Michael’s College was all set to surrender the license of its full-power signal, WWPV (88.7 Colchester), after winning a construction permit for an LPFM signal on 92.5 that will cover more ground with fewer regulatory responsibilities. But instead of letting the 88.7 signal go, St. Mike’s is now donating that license to its neighbor down the street, Vermont Public Radio…St. Mike’s will keep the WWPV callsign for its new LPFM, and VPR will assist the college with building out that new LPFM signal, as well as funding the expense of creating iOS and Android streaming apps for the LPFM.”
More College Radio News
For the second week in a row, a college radio station has been chastised for failure to maintain quarterly issues and programs lists related to public affairs programming
The WUML DJ will be travelling to Switzerland as part of his prize
Launching this September, this syndicated live music series will be free for college and community radio stations to broadcast
A community station on a college campus
Campus radio in India seems to be growing, with Bol FM at University of Hyderabad as one example
School is shutting down public radio station WKCC, although it doesn’t seem that there is much, if any, student involvement with the Kankakee, Illinois station
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.