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On-air studio at college radio station KSPC. Photo: J. Waits

College Radio Watch: Students in Public Radio, 1997 as Peak Indie, and More News

This week’s Radio Survivor Podcast is particularly inspiring for college radio, as we look more closely at how KUNV was able to remain under university control, largely due to its increased commitment to students. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas public radio station sought advice from Fordham University’s WFUV about engaging students as vital members of the station’s workforce. On the podcast, we talk to folks from KUNV and WFUV about how both stations are working with students and get their take on why students should be playing valuable roles at campus-based public radio stations.

Was 1997 Peak Indie? Were the 1990s College Radio’s Peak?

When I first started writing about college radio, I was fascinated by the role of independent radio stations and “indie” culture within the broader music community. The initial spark for my blog Spinning Indie came from an ethnographic study that I did at a college radio station in 1997. I had many discussions about the station’s indie label-only policy and why it was an important part of the station’s identity. In that context, it was fascinating to read Scott Timberg’s piece for Vox about the “peak year” of indie rock. He argues, “For a series of reasons that would have been hard to discern at the time, 1997 stands as both Peak Indie and the beginning of the end for the style’s heyday.”

While his dissection of 1997 is supremely nostalgic for me, it was also good to see that college radio gets a nod in his take on the history of indie rock, as being a key part of the overall music landscape. Timberg writes:

But indie does have a real, verifiable history. Soon after punk hit, intense, speed-driven hardcore bands formed in California and New York and DC, and their fans built an infrastructure — a coast-to-coast network of clubs, mimeographed fanzines, college radio stations, record shops, and small record labels that would make indie possible.

Of course, these networks and college radio still exist in 2017; but sadly don’t get the media attention and adulation that they should and the narrative that college radio is on the decline continues, even within articles that praise college radio. A piece about Pomona College radio station KSPC for the Student Life states, “Independent college radio has been on the decline since its peak in the 90s, but the importance of the medium has not faded in the slightest. In fact, in an increasingly commercialized world, college radio is arguably more important now than ever.” An aside in a column in the Stranger this week had a bit of snark, with a writer quipping about a new release with 90s indie-rock leanings, “I smell a hit… at least on college radio. (Do they still have college radio?).”

From my experience, individual college radio stations may have their ups and downs, but college radio is alive and well. That’s pretty much the point of this weekly column: to shed light on the ongoing relevance of college radio.

Before I get to this week’s news round-up, enjoy this college radio-themed video (complete with vintage footage and photography) that Jeff Shaw passed along.


More College Radio News

College Radio Station Profiles

Spotify May Have Killed the Radio Star, but WALT Lives (The Davidsonian)

Tracing WESU’s Beginnings from “Mischievous Beginnings” to Innovative Present (The Wesleyan Argus)

KALX Radio: Remaining True to its Independent Spirit for 55 Years (The Daily Californian)

The Countercultural Power of College Radio (and KSPC)  (The Student Life)

College Radio and Radio Drama

SIUE to Perform First Radio Soap Opera Drama (The Telegraph)

Clarion Radio Takes on “War of the Worlds” (The Clarion)

KSDB Radio Playhouse Presents Live Radio Dramas (The Collegian)

College Radio Programming

The Reason Behind the ‘Burg’s Change in Sound and Look (The Observer)

New Radio Shows Bring Variety to KTXT-FM (Daily Toreador)

New Radio Show offers Hands-on Sports Marketing Experience (Basement Medicine)

College Radio Station Sale

A Brief Eulogy for Commercial Radio Station WBRU (The Memory Place)

College Radio as Career Builder

Z100’s Skeery Jones and David Brody Talk Radio and Brooklyn College (The Excelsior)

How Ryan Ruocco Went from College Radio Host to Multi-Sport Play-by-Play Man (TV Newser)

Poetry Critic Honed Curatorial Skills at College Radio Station WHRB (Harvard Magazine)

Local PR Pro and Former College Radio Sports Director Inducted into College’s Media Hall of Fame (TC Palm)

College Radio Events/Classes

Enrollment Open for New DJ Class for WBGU-FM (BG Falcon Media)

KSYM Rewards Student Volunteers with Trip to National Media Convention (The Ranger)

San Diego City College Downsizing Radio TV Video Film Department (City Times)


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