The Princeton Review has released its annual list of the “Best College Radio Stations,” based on student surveys conducted at 382 colleges. Part of its larger Best 382 Colleges publication, the college radio list is derived from student responses to a question about the popularity of their college radio station. For the new 2018 list, around 137,000 students were surveyed across the country, representing approximately 358 students per campus. Survey results for this edition are culled from responses given during the 2016-17, 2015-16, and 2014-15 academic years.
I’ve been tracking these results since 2008 and have noted that although the college radio list is marketed as indicating radio station quality (“best”), it is derived from a question focused on popularity of an unspecified radio station. Some campuses have multiple radio stations, ranging from student-run online stations to professionally-run FM public radio stations. Understandably, campuses with a prominent radio station or with several radio stations are more likely to have students who would indicate that their college radio station is “popular.”
As was the case for the 2017 edition, the 2018 college radio results are based on three years worth of survey data. The survey asks: “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements at your school?” and among the list of statements is: “College Radio Station is popular.” Respondents are given the following options: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree or Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree.
When I reached out to Princeton Review for clarification, I was told, “The question above was used during our 2014-15 and most recent 2016-17 collection cycle. We did for a single year (2015-16) ask this in a different format…” I covered that change in the question (“Which of the following are most popular at your school? Please rank the top 5 with 1 being most popular”) in my piece about the 2017 edition, as I was surprised by the radically different question. Although results from that modified question are incorporated into the 2018 edition results, it’s interesting to see that the Princeton Review has reverted back to the prior wording for the college radio question.
For the 2018 Princeton Review list of “Best College Radio Stations,” 16 of the 20 schools were on the 2017 list. Of the four that were not on the 2017 list, two have appeared previously. The other two schools (University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and Georgia Institute of Technology) have not shown up in the 11 years that I’ve been tracking; both institutions have licenses for at least one 100,000 watt FM radio station. Interestingly, Manhattanville College (which made the “best college radio station” list in 2018) is listed by Princeton Review as being one of the six new schools surveyed for the 2018 edition, although it made the college radio list two years ago in the 2016 book.
2018 Princeton Review’s Most Popular College Radio Stations
(note: I’ve added station names and call signs as the Princeton Review only lists school names. Schools in bold were not on the list last year)
1. St. Bonaventure University (WSBU-88.3 FM, St. Bonaventure, NY)
2. Manhattanville College (WMVL, Purchase, NY) – Most recently appeared on 2016 list
4. Carleton College (KRLX 88.1 FM, Northfield, MN)
7. Reed College (KRRC, Portland, OR)
8. St. Michael’s College (WWPV-LP 92.5 FM, Colchester, VT)
9. Chapman University (ChapmanRadio.com, Orange, CA)
10. Fordham University (WFUV 90.7 FM, Bronx, NY)
11. Bates College (WRBC 91.5 FM, Lewiston, ME)
12. Hofstra University (WRHU 88.7 FM, Hempstead, New York)
13. University of Puget Sound (KUPS 90.1 FM, Tacoma, Washington)
14. Drew University (WMNJ The Forest, Madison, NJ)
15. Denison University (WDUB 91.1 FM, Granville, OH) – Most recently appeared on 2015 list
16. Franklin & Marshall College (WFNM 89.1 FM, Lancaster, PA)
18. Georgia Institute of Technology (WREK 91.1 FM, Atlanta, GA)
19. Earlham College (WECI 91.5 FM, Richmond, IN)
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