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College Radio Watch: WRPI’s DJ Hairman, D.C. Studio for Michigan LPFM, and Teen DJ at Dartmouth Station

Radio Survivor’s podcast resumed this week after a break for the winter holidays. In this brand new episode, I give an overview of the state of college radio in 2015. It’s worth a listen, particularly if you missed my 2015 college radio year-in-review article. My segment starts at about the 60 minute mark.

Also this week, Matthew Lasar writes about the ongoing debate at University of Massachusetts, Amherst station WMUA surrounding recent programming changes. As I mentioned in my year end recap, there’s been a reduction in non-student programming at the station. Community DJs and listeners have expressed displeasure with these changes, which include the loss of some long-time polka music shows.

And, finally, be sure to take a look at Aidan Herrick’s new series about gems that he’s found while combing through the KZSC-FM record library at the University of California, Santa Cruz college radio station. This week he found a seminal death metal LP.

Free Speech Celebrated on WGDR

As Martin Luther King’s birthday approaches, it seems fitting that Goddard College Community Radio in Plainfield, Vermont is devoting 8 days of programming to the topic of free speech. According to The Bridge, “Speech Week” programming on WGDR-WGDH will focus on “…discussions of free speech, hate speech, responsible speech, racist and phobic speech and related topics on January 17-24.” Full programming details can be found on the station’s website.

WKCR Takes Stream Offline

There’s been quite a bit of press attention following WKCR’s decision to take down the Columbia University radio station’s online stream. The New York Post reports that listeners are outraged and RAIN News writes of a “cloud of uncertainty.” I was amazed that news of these changes made it into the New York Times, but it’s clear that the station’s classical and jazz listeners have grown to rely on the station’s online stream in addition to its terrestrial broadcasts in New York. According to the Times piece, “The station said it was working on restoring its online service, but it is unclear why it pulled the plug” and “A Columbia representative said that the problem was not the cost of royalties but contractual terms with the station’s ‘provider’ and that negotiations were underway.”

A December 26 statement from the WKCR board on the WKCR website reads, “As of January 1, 2016, WKCR has no longer been able to provide online programming. We are in the process of renegotiating the contract that allows us to legally stream our content over the Internet and will update you as soon as possible. We regret that we are unable to provide this service. WKCR will continue to broadcast on 89.9 FM and 89.9 HD 1 radio as we work towards a long-term solution.”

College Radio Station in Michigan Opens Remote Studio in D.C.

In other interesting news, a small liberal arts college in Michigan has opened a radio studio far from campus in Washington, D.C. According to Hillsdale College, its new Boyle Radio Studio is a remote broadcast studio with equipment similar to what is found in its campus radio station in Michigan, WRFH-LP. The new studio is located in Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship. Back in Michigan, WRFH-LP launched over 101.7 FM less than a year ago, on July 10, 2015, with call letters that stand for “Radio Free Hillsdale.” The station is part of the school’s journalism program, which makes the studio outpost in D.C. seem like a perfect complement.

15-year-old DJ Takes to Airwaves at Dartmouth College

Many college radio stations welcome high school-age DJs into their studios and Valley News reports on a 15-year-old who already has a regular DJ gig on Dartmouth College radio station 99 Rock. Long interested in radio, Harrison Hinman had been seeking out a radio opportunity and ended up interning initially at Dartmouth’s online station WDRC, before getting a 3-hour daily show on its terrestrial station, 99 Rock aka WFRD-FM.

68-year-old Beatnik DJ at WRPI

This is what makes college radio great: wacky characters like DJ Harmando at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s college radio station WRPI 91.5 FM in Troy, New York. A Times-Union feature characterizes the “Progressive Brain Damage” host as, “a 68-year-old unrepentant hippie who lives alone in the woods in a one-room schoolhouse on the outskirts of Rensselaerville.” Playing a wide mix of sounds and waxing philosophical over the airwaves, DJ Hairman is “…apt to quote Shakespeare between spinning a wildly eclectic playlist of vinyl records that can whipsaw from Glenn Miller to the Grateful Dead, from Charlie Parker to the Charlie Daniels Band. His weekend slots are shows focused on country and bluegrass music.” Be sure to watch the video attached to the story, which is full of photos of DJ Hairman and of WRPI. I spotted the ubiquitous Leo Blais sign as well…

Bowie Tributes

After the unexpected news of David Bowie’s death (read my tribute here), numerous radio stations did impromptu on-air tributes, including Marywood University radio station VMFM 91.7 FM in Scranton, Pennsylvania. WNEP reports on the special, which included material from the station’s library dating back to 1967.

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