Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a “regular” College Radio Watch column, although there’s been quite a bit of college radio news in the past few weeks. I’m slowing making my way towards my 100th radio station tour report and am really looking forward to visiting more college radio stations in 2016. I’m also excited to dig into more college radio history, particularly during the Library of Congress’ Radio Preservation Task Force‘s eagerly anticipated conference in Washington, D.C. in February.
Recent College Radio Coverage on Radio Survivor
In case you’ve missed some of my recent stories, here’s a quick look at my college radio coverage over the past few weeks:
Catawba College Purchases Another Radio Station
As 2016 begins, there are some interesting developments in college radio. This week we learned more details about the Catawba College Foundation’s recent purchase of WTIX-AM in Concord, North Carolina, adding to its collection of radio stations. According to WBTV, “The latest radio acquisition will create more hands-on opportunities for Catawba College students who pursue undergraduate degrees in Communication Arts and its Sports Communication concentration. Catawba launched that concentration at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year when the Catawba Foundation acquired the first two of the three radio stations and the College signed a memorandum of understanding with the Salisbury-based National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (NSSA), now headquartered on the Catawba campus. Students pursuing this concentration will learn to do play by play, interviews, and features on student athletes at the stations.”
University of Hawaii’s KTUH-FM Boosts Power
In other news, University of Hawaii’s college radio station KTUH-FM is boosting its power to 7,000 watts and will be changing frequencies in order to accomplish that. Honolulu Magazine reports that KTUH, which launched in 1969, was Hawaii’s first licensed non-commercial FM station.
Profiling Stations in New Hampshire, Washington and Florida
WKNH at Keene State College in New Hampshire was profiled on its school website, as the 45 year old station seems to be on the upswing. Online station KOUG at Washington State University, Vancouver airs comedy and music and The Columbian notes that without physical music, the station is quite spartan, reporting that, “Not long ago, the studio would likely have been crammed with vinyl records or even compact discs. But the station now is clutter-free, with two microphones, a computer screen, a soundboard and phone for listener calls. There is a vinyl player, but it’s rarely touched.”
In honor of the school’s 50th anniversary, Florida International University put together a comprehensive piece about the history of student radio on campus, beginning with the launch of college radio station WUFI-AM in 1988. Now broadcasting as WRGP, the station continues to thrive. According to the article, “Despite all the changes throughout the station’s history, there was always a commitment to introducing FIU students and the surrounding community to music they may have never heard before.”
Oldest College DJ at WPRB?
The Wall Street Journal profiles a WPRB classical music DJ who has been DJing at the Princeton University station since the late 1960s. The piece states, “Teri Noel Towe has been broadcasting on Princeton University’s radio station, WPRB, since his undergraduate days there in the late ’60s. And while he didn’t attend Columbia University, he’s been participating in its radio station’s, WKCR, annual 10-day BachFest since 1977. That might just make him America’s oldest college DJ.” That’s certainly a long-time DJ gig, but I would argue that there are indeed plenty of college radio DJs in their 60s.
Energy Groove Launches U.S. Radio Outpost at Ex’pression College
Although most people think of college radio as non-commercial and non-profit, there are many examples of stations, both online and terrestrial, which operate commercially. A particularly interesting example is starting up at the for-profit Ex’pression College in Emeryville, California. Streaming commercial radio station Energy Groove will be operating a branch on campus, under the guidance of the SAE Institute. According to Radio Magazine, “Energy Groove U.S. will be run by Ex’pression students and will offer talk, entertainment and educational programming. The content for Energy Groove stations is all student created and includes live and pre-recorded music and mix shows, talk shows and educational segments. There will also be shared content from Energy Grove affiliates in other countries.”
College Radio Love for WZBC at Boston College
Entering the station for the first time in 2010 was a terrifying experience: an ominous black door, walls canvassed with stickers, and thousands of CDs and records. The most ‘indie’ band I knew was The Gaslight Anthem, and I’m pretty sure I had a Guns’n’Roses shirt on underneath a tattered corduroy jacket. When the student managers of the station described the programming mission of ‘ZBC Rock’ and ‘NCP,’ I was hooked instantly. This was a station like no other: music for the sake of music, no corporate interests and no commercial influence.”
He jokes about his first show, calling it “a disaster.” Now, five years later, he’s experienced the station as an 18-year-old student, as General Manager, and now as a community member DJ. He points out that,
Every 4 years, ZBC experiences a complete generational turnover, as undergraduate DJs enter and exit the station. They bring with them new perspectives and truly innovative program visions. Beginning in 2010, we increased resources to proliferate in-studio performances at the station. Since then, we’ve seen over a hundred acts broadcast live over 90.3FM. While commercial radio remains a male-dominated industry and women are relegated to co-host, WZBC boasts a majority of women hosts and women in management positions. And with half the station’s DJs and producers undergraduate students, the sound bleeding from your radio is perpetually young. Every single time the needle falls onto a record, the song that you hear has been handpicked by someone who loves music more than anything else in life and wants to share that song with you. That’s real alternative.”
Happy 30th to WHFR
Anniversary congratulations are in order for Henry Ford Community College radio station WHFR in Dearborn, Michigan, which recently celebrated 30 years of broadcasting. According to Examiner.com, the station had humble beginnings doing initial “broadcasts” over the school’s public address system starting in 1962, before the station moved to FM in 1985.
Documentary Explores Live Music Tradition at WMUC
And, finally, I love this short documentary about live music show Third Rail Radio on University of Maryland, College Park’s college radio station WMUC-FM. The 2015 film, Spotify Killed the Radio Star, provides some great historical context about the station and also gives a feel for the college radio station space. I visited there in 2014 and it was hard to capture the amazing two-story record library in photos, but in this documentary there’s a scene that perfectly captures the space.