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Looking through the vinyl library at college radio station KRLX. Photo: J. Waits

College Radio Watch: Radio Memories at WPRB, KWWC Sold, College Radio DJs as Ultimate Hipsters and More News

I’ve been busy with so many college radio events lately, most recently at CMJ’s first College Day on Tour in Portland, Oregon on Saturday. I recapped the day in a post yesterday and Paul Riismandel and I also chatted about it on this week’s Radio Survivor Podcast (#23!) at around one hour and 18 minutes into the podcast. As always, it’s great to hang out with other college radio participants and it was a bonus to meet some Radio Survivor readers too. This coming weekend I will be on the road again, speaking about college radio history at the University of California Radio Network’s (UCRN) conference being held at Pomona College radio station KSPC. I can’t wait, especially since I used to be a DJ at KSPC!

Treasure Trove of College Radio Memories at Princeton’s WPRB

Speaking of college radio history, the Princeton Alumni Weekly has a trio of articles in this week’s issue about the history of college radio station WPRB. The first piece, “The Voice of Princeton” provides a great overview of the 75 year history of student radio at Princeton University and includes lots of amazing photos and anecdotes. Another piece, “Ethereal Minds,” shares tales from the station’s past and also features audio links to a collection of vintage WPRB station IDs, promotional spots, a segment from an 8-hour Residents special, and even some Vietnam War coverage. And, finally, the third piece is a podcast, “Paw Tracks,” which includes interviews with WPRB alumni from the class of 1988 and the class of 1978, sharing their memories of the radio station during the explosion of punk rock, new wave, and alternative music. WPRB alumni John Shyer says in his interview, “For most of us who worked at WPRB, our work at the radio station was one of the most important aspects of our undergraduate career at Princeton and is still very meaningful to us, even years down the road.”

Former Stephens College Station Frequency Now Airing Classical Music as KMUC

The Columbia Tribune reports on Mid-Missouri Public Radio station KBIA-FM’s takeover of former Stephens College radio station KWWC 90.5 FM, which now allows for separate channels for different types of public radio programming (specifically classical music and news/talk). Licensed to the University of Missouri, KBIA has renamed the former KWWC channel KMUC (for MU Classical), following the FCC’s approval of the assignment of the KWWC license last month. The sale price was $50,000 plus an additional $50,000 worth of underwriting announcements over the course of five years.

According to the Columbia Tribune, University of Missouri had been on the hunt for a new frequency for awhile and had tried to purchase another college radio station:

The station had tried several times to snag a second radio frequency in Columbia, attempting to buy KWWC-FM and MU’s student-run KCOU-FM. In 1997, KCOU rejected a $75,000 bid to buy the station’s license. But [KBIA General Manager Mike] Dunn waited for new opportunities and saw an opening when Stephens College discontinued its broadcast journalism program. Stephens College spokeswoman Janese Silvey said KWWC was run on autopilot for several years. Software generated the music playlist, and one staff member manually ran the weekly emergency alert tests, she said. ‘It’s just been kind of unmanned,’ she said. ‘It was a really old station that would have required tens of thousands of dollars to overhaul. It just wasn’t an investment we felt was appropriate.'”

And with that, Stephens College “…decided to sell off the station license — it retained the KWWC call letters — and transition the station to an online streaming format. The change will give students more of an opportunity to participate in the station’s programming by creating original playlists, conducting interviews and possibly even creating radio dramas, Silvey said. The college is building a radio station in its student center, which Silvey said hopefully will be open before students return to classes in January,” writes the Columbia Tribune.

Stephens College, a long-time women’s college in Columbia, Missouri, actually has a storied radio past, launching its first radio station, KFRU, in 1925. It sold off that station in 1932 to the president of the St. Louis Fur Company. As part of the deal, the school was given five hours per week for programming on the station, which was utilized by radio students at Stephens College. The school launched its FM station KWWC-FM in 1965.

Become a Hipster at Your College Radio Station

I really enjoyed the article, “Fonky Fresh: One DJ’s Megnificent Origin Story” in the University of California, Irvine publication New University. It chronicles a hipster college student’s path towards becoming a French rap DJ at college radio station KUCI. Megan Cole writes,

We sat stumped in the studio for hours, as we struggled to find the perfect music for our mixtape. We shuffled through Cuban techno, acapella proto-disco, and Kentucky blues until finally, Roy found a dusty CD at the top of a shelf, by an artist called ‘Fonky Family.’ ‘Wait…is this French rap?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘This is our future.’ With all of the reckless abandon of two desperate DJs, we quickly recorded a set of French rap and headed off to our final training class to hand it into our director. A week later, KUCI released the spring schedule, and for some reason, there we were – DJ Royal-T and DJ Megnifique, hosting ‘L’Arrondissement,’ Wednesdays from 4 to 6 a.m. We were officially French rap DJs.”

Other College Radio News

Veteran’s Day Student Radio Production at KALA-FM

St. Ambrose University writes that its college radio station produced special Veteran’s Day programming featuring students as voice actors in the tale of a class of 1949 alumnus.

Happy Birthday to Internet Radio, which Started with College Radio Broadcasts

Journal of Musical Things reminisces about the birth of Internet radio 21 years ago this week. And, yes, there’s a college radio connection.

Former College Radio Stations Get the Nod as Internet Music Influencers

The New York Times lauds former college radio stations KEXP (it used to be University of Washington station KCMU) and KCRW for their music programming. According to the Times, “…a handful of nonprofit music stations like KEXP with roots in college radio have never been doing better. They are using the Internet to reach bigger audiences around the globe, adding to their video programming and seeking to become in-person destinations for fans.” It’s all true, but the characterization of KEXP’s current digs (it’s moving to a much, larger facility soon) as “cramped” and “rundown” might seem strange to most college radio participants. Many would LOVE to have the amount of space occupied by KEXP today.

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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