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"WKDU if you steal, we will kill you" sign on the door to the college radio station. Photo: J. Waits

College Radio Watch: WBRU Shopping its License, Radio Camps and More News

In honor of the 100th episode of our podcast this week, we recorded a special edition featuring all four Radio Survivor partners. It was fun chatting with Matthew, Eric and Paul about our favorite podcast memories and reflecting on our hopes and dreams for the podcast. For me, it’s been a great way to help bring my writing to life in a different context and I’ve particularly enjoyed sharing interviews with radio participants as well as audio from my radio station tours.

Although my passion for college radio is what has largely fueled me, in the past few years I’ve also become increasingly enamored with all the brand new low power FM radio stations launching all over the United States. The Radio Survivor Podcast has helped provide an outlet for sharing this exciting moment in history when so many brand new radio stations are hitting the airwaves.

WBRU License up for Sale

An increasingly dying breed of college radio is the student-run commercially-licensed radio station. Often descendants of commercial carrier current stations, a handful of college-related groups still run FCC-licensed commercial radio stations.  Interestingly, many of these stations have licenses held by outside non-profits, typically run by a board of students and alumni. I’ve visited a few, including WPGU-FM at University of Illinois, WHRB-FM at Harvard University, WPRB-FM at Princeton University, and most recently WUVA at University of Virginia, as it was preparing to sell its license.

Although I understood the students’ rationale for selling the WUVA license earlier this year, it still saddened me that this rare type of station was disappearing at University of Virginia. On the heels of that, we heard back in March that Brown University’s WBRU was considering selling its commercial FM license. This week, Providence Monthly, provides further updates and writes:

…the signal that broadcasts WBRU is being shopped around nationally to potential buyers, and what replaces it won’t be anything resembling what WBRU is today.

While the rest of us were busy lamenting the cold and rainy spring, Brown students and the BRU board of directors were deciding the fate of the station over a series of tense meetings. The decision that they came to, faced with the reality of diminishing profits and assets that were steadily losing value, was to sell the 95.5 signal and use that money for different media projects that won’t involve terrestrial radio. It’s nearly impossible that whoever buys the 95.5 will preserve BRU’s alternative sensibility, the one that is a major force in national music and has brought in accolades from the likes of Rolling Stone as ‘one of the 10 radio stations in the country that doesn’t suck.’ While no one on either side of this issue knows the real timing, the consensus is that as soon as the station is sold, which could be any day now, 95.5 WBRU FM as we know it, as this city has known it for more than 50 years, will be gone.”

 

More College Radio News

Radio Dreams: Skidmore Radio Offers Youth Program (Saratoga Today)

Students Experience the Magic of Radio Reporting at High School Journalism Camp (Oregon Live)

The Renaissance of the Humble Radio Drama (Slate)

Boise State University’s Station Seeking Historical Materials from its 40 Year History (KBSU)

WBRU’s Radio Silence (Providence Monthly)

University of Kentucky Journalism Students Win Broadcast Awards (UK Now)

College Donates Radio Equipment to Remote Gambian Village (FE Week)

Mumbai: Tune into 107.8 for… err, but the Radio Station’s Not Available (Mid-day)

Bob Odenkirk’s College Radio Past (BT)

Dennis Elsas’ Shares College Radio History at Queens College (The East Hampton Star)

WTJU to Make Way for more UVa Student Housing (Daily Progress)

Syracuse Radio Station Z89 Cranks up Signal to 1000 Watts (Syracuse.com)

Bermuda College Radio Hosts Lip Sync Battle (Bernews)


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