The CMJ Music Marathon takes place in New York City in a few weeks and as I read about the conference and shows, I get a bit nostalgic, as I think back to my trips to CMJ over the years. My very first trip to New York was for a CMJ Music Marathon in 1987. I was a college radio Music Director at Haverford College radio station WHRC and ventured to New York City by train (it was just a few hours away) with some of my fellow radio station cohorts as well as a few friends to attend the conference at the Roosevelt Hotel. We saw a few panels, maybe a keynote (Abbie Hoffman spoke about activism in the 1980s), hit the exhibition hall to pick up free records and tapes, saw a bunch of live music (including probably my first rap show – Schoolly D!), and also hit a dance club or two. It was exhilarating to be in New York City for the first time and it felt special to have a CMJ badge that gave free admission to some of the hottest clubs and venues (around 20 in 1987).
The following year I went to CMJ all by myself, which felt like a huge deal as a 21-year-old college student. I crashed on a friend’s older sister’s couch in Soho and dragged myself to shows, even though I was probably petrified to go to music venues without a friend or two. Although I enjoyed seeing panels, I vividly remember oversleeping and missing out on a keynote that I had been looking forward to (the apartment didn’t get much natural light, so I didn’t wake up with the sun). I’m not even sure if I attended the all-day college radio-themed workshops, but I do remember seeing a panel about women in metal music.
After graduating from college, I left college radio, but still immersed myself in music by attending lots of live shows in San Francisco. When the lure of graduate school hit me, I moved to Bowling Green, Ohio and was terrified that I would lose touch with music. One of the first things that I did after arriving on campus was head to the college radio station, WBGU-FM, where I quickly signed up and soon after got a Friday night radio show. Within a year I became Assistant Music Director and then I once again found myself traveling to New York for the CMJ Music Marathon in 1996. The event was in a different location (Lincoln Center!), but was as fun as I remembered and I traversed the city going to shows at various venues, including a super sweaty Cold Cold Hearts show at the ironically named Cooler in the Meat Packing District (wow, did Sleater-Kinney play too? Memory fails me).
Then, in 2008 when I started to write about college radio in earnest, I returned to CMJ as a reporter. By then, the event had moved to NYU. I probably saw WAY more panels than when I was a student doing Music Director duties and hung on every word during the panels that comprise the college radio-specific College Day. I went again the following year and the most recent CMJ that I’ve attended was in 2011. I still continue to monitor the conference from afar and hope to attend again in the future. In the near term, though, I’ll likely go to CMJ’s College Day on Tour in Portland, Oregon in November, as it’s much closer to home.
CMJ in 2015
So what am I missing at CMJ this year? Once again College Day will be devoted to all things college radio, with panels, performances, and the annual CMJ College Radio Awards taking place on Wednesday, October 14. There will also be a College Radio Mixer on Tuesday, October 13 and some other college radio-themed panels and workshops throughout the CMJ Music Marathon. See the full College Day schedule and other college radio-related events on the CMJ website.
On Radio Survivor: Radio Survivor Origin Story + Big Changes at Amherst College Station
On this week’s Radio Survivor Podcast, we had a special feature, in which all three of the Radio Survivor founders got together for a chat about how we came to create the website back in 2009. It was a treat to not only be in the same room with my co-founders Matthew Lasar and Paul Riismandel, but to share our memories about the early days of the website. We also talk about our hopes and dreams and I spend a lot of the conversation delving into the reasons why I think college radio is so important. I hope you will listen!
Also this week, I reported on a new partnership at Amherst College radio station WAMH. After years of struggling to fill the FM schedule, students have agreed to let a local public radio group use airtime when student shows aren’t being broadcast. For the moment that means that student radio shows will run on FM from 4pm to 2am. This is an interesting case in that students made the decision about the deal and will still be able to take back airtime if student demand for radio shows increases.
College Radio Profiles
WUDR DJ and Professor: Still On the Air after all these Years
Since I’m on a nostalgia kick today, I really enjoyed reading about a University of Dayton professor who has been hosting a college radio show at WUDR-FM since 2004. Some of his radio trajectory mirrors mine, as he also had a stint on WBGU-FM while in grad school at Bowling Green State University. The Dayton Daily News quotes DJ Dr. J, who describes his radio past, saying, “‘I was one of those guys who listened to weird music growing up, so radio was the first student club I joined when I got to undergraduate at the University of Minnesota in 1983. I threw myself into it for five years. I took a couple of years off when I started grad school at Bowling Green State University. They had a student-run station, and I ended up coming back to doing radio. I did radio and did research projects related to music and radio while I was there.'”
WSOU’s Mark Maben Chats with Radio Ink about College Radio
While I take issue with the headline that refers to college radio as a “farm team,” because I think college radio should be celebrated for its own unique contributions, I enjoyed Radio Ink’s interview with WSOU (Seton Hall University) General Manager Mark Maben. In the piece, Maben shares his love for radio, saying, “We all know that our industry has changed and sometimes the loss of the familiar or the old way of doing things can feel bad. But I think radio is still in a good place because we are in the midst of a revolution that favors what radio does best. The key will be to embrace the changes and challenges ahead and leverage our natural advantages. If we do, then radio will not only be in a good place, it will be in a great place.”
College Radio Programs Begin Airing on Community Radio Station WRLR-LP
Lancer Radio, the online student radio station at the College of Lake County is now bringing its college radio programming to local low power FM (LFPM) community radio station WRLR-LP in Round Lake, Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports that, “While Lancer Radio will still stream on TuneIn.com, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, programs will also broadcast on WRLR.”
Profiling KRUX at New Mexico State University
The Albuquerque Journal published a piece this week about college radio station KRUX-FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico, pointing out that it’s the only college radio station on the FM dial in New Mexico. According to the article, “Inside the KRUX offices, one wall is covered with vinyl records and the sound booth is painted red and black. Programming Director and sophomore Austin Martin-Likes – known on air as Austin ML – says the station is committed to playing music outside the mainstream while also giving student DJs and creative directors freedom to play what they like. The KRUX motto is ‘swimming against the mainstream,’ and most of the time it does.”
Happy 40th to WLJS
According to Jacksonville State University, next Tuesday will mark the 40th anniversary of college radio on the Jacksonville, Alabama campus and special programming will mark the occasion. Additionally, a gathering of station alumni will take place on Friday, October 2. According to Jacksonville State,
WLJS (91.9 FM) may be a household name for JSU students today, but campus-wide, student-run radio was a new and hot commodity in the 70s when Sandefer started the station. WLJS, which stands for ‘We Love Jax State,’ began with a lowly 10 watts broadcasting from inside Bibb Graves Hall via a radio antenna on top of the Houston Cole Library. Today, the 6,000-watt station broadcasts out of Self Hall with a $100,000 antenna on top of Chimney Peak that was donated in 2011 by Clear Channel Communications of Birmingham. The station serves as a training ground for broadcast communication majors and has launched careers of many successful radio personalities, including syndicated celebrites [sic] Rick & Bubba.”
College Radio Events
College Radio Day is Coming on October 2
What are you doing for College Radio Day next week? Some stations are beginning to announce plans, including WESS at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, which will hold festivities on campus, according to the Pocono Record.
CBI Announces Sessions for Minneapolis Conference (and I’ll Be There Too!)
College Broadcasters Inc. just announced the full schedule for its annual Student Electronic Media Convention, which is being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from October 22 to October 24. I’m excited to not only be attending, but also to be presenting on a couple of panels. I’ll discuss my college radio travels and will also share tips (along with Mike Lupica from WPRB at Princeton University) about starting college radio history projects. You can read a bit more about the CBI convention on CBI’s inaugural post as part of its new Campus View online feature for Radio World. Also, Colorado State University profiles a KCSU student DJ who is up for an award at CBI this year.
International College Radio
Vote for the Best College Radio Station in Kenya
I wish I knew more about college radio all over the world, so it’s great to catch glimpses of international college radio stations when I can. Capital Campus ran a piece profiling three college radio stations: Kenyatta University Radio, Shine FM at Daystar University, and USIU (United States International University) Radio.
We cover the culture of college radio every Friday in our College Radio Survivor feature. If you have college radio news to share, please drop us a note at EDITORS at RADIOSURVIVOR dot COM.