This week, so many fascinating college radio stories caught my eye. We learn about college radio’s profound influence on music culture in the 1980s and 1990s in a piece about the marketing of Nirvana as well as in Trent Reznor’s recent speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Reznor explains that college radio opened a musical world for him and introduced him to the Cure and other artists.
College radio’s roots come to light in articles outlining the deep history of radio at University of Kentucky, where an early program was produced to air on a nearby station in 1929. The university launched an AM station in 1940. Out in California, we learn that KCRW began in 1945 as an FM radio training ground for war vets.
The back stories behind two college radio ownership changes were also illuminating to me. A string of controversies led to the $1 sale of Georgetown University’s WGTB license and equipment in 1978. In one of the oddest tales yet, University of Bridgeport was taken over by the Moonies, leading to its college radio station WPKN going independent.
Prisoners and Late Night Listeners
We’ve written about incarcerated listeners and college radio before, so I loved a recent in-depth article about prisoners who have been long-time fans of college radio station KCPR. The extensive piece interviews inmates, DJs and station alumni about the profound influence that the station’s programming has had on nearby prisoners.
I also enjoyed the story about early morning and late night DJs at KVRX. Round-the-clock live radio hosts is something that many college radio stations are known for and it’s a special experience for both DJs and listeners
Another First College Radio Station
I’ve been obsessing a bit about various claims related the first non-commercial educational radio station, so I was intrigued to run across another station making that argument. Some early radio was happening at University of Kentucky as pointed out in university publication UK Now:
The beginnings of University of Kentucky’s public radio station WUKY happened April 1, 1929, when the first UK-produced program was broadcast on WHAS Radio in Louisville. It took 11 more years before WBKY (the former call letters of WUKY) actually went on the air as the nation’s first university-owned non-commercial educational radio station. That was Oct. 17, 1940.
WBKY adds itself to the list of early non-commercial educational radio stations, debuting over AM in 1940. A 2015 story in Radio World clarifies some confusion that has arisen:
The FCC had just designated a new band (42-50 MHz) for experimental FM and wide-band Apex AM broadcasting. Further, the commission had set aside a portion of the band for what they called ‘Non-Commercial Educational’ broadcasting. School boards in Cleveland and New York quickly licensed stations. WBKY was next in line, and thus UK became the first university to obtain an NCE license.
A bit of myth-busting is necessary here; WBKY is not, as sometimes reported, the first university-owned FM station. Copies of the 1940 construction permit and the 1941 FCC license verify that the transmitter’s type of emission was ‘A-3’ (i.e. Amplitude Modulation).
More College Radio News
History and College Radio’s Influence
- 1978: Georgetown’s WGTB Equipment Sold for $1 to UDC (The Georgetown Voice)
- KCRW Moves into New Headquarters (Variety)
- First University of Kentucky-produced Radio Program Aired 90 Years Ago (UK Now)
- UK Ag and Radio, A Pairing 90 Years and Counting (WUKY)
- Trent Reznor’s Love Letter to the Cure in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Speech (Cleveland.com)
- When ‘Nevermind’ Changed Everything (Rolling Stone)
- Four Decades of Radio Radio: an Interview with WPKN’s Scott Harris (CounterPunch)
Infrastructure: Moves, Rebranding, Probation, Finances
- WTJU Trades Student Convenience for More Ambitious, Connected Future (The Cavalier Daily, University of Virginia)
- The Problem with Probation (The Harvard Crimson)
- April Fools: For 70th Anniversary, KSDB Radio Changes Call Letters to KUSX (The Collegian)
- Radio Station Struggles to Improve: Members Say Upgrades Worth Money (The Defender)
Profiles of Stations and Staff
- WRMC Meet Your DJ: Mikaela Chang (The Middlebury Campus)
- WBGU Programming Director Found Life Direction on Facebook (Bowling Green Falcon Media)
- April Genre DJ of the Month: Toni Pennacchia, WZBC (NACC)
- Senior Spotlight: Mallory Moreno, Communication (UIndy 360)
- College Radio DJ Launching Non-Commercial Network (Illinois Entertainer)
- Outgoing WNHU Student Leader Reflects on Role with Award-Winning Radio Station (University of New Haven)
- Inmates Find their Voice Through College Radio (Mustang News)
- Late at Night or Early in the Morning, Student DJs are Running KVRX (The Daily Texan)
- Album of the Week on WXPL 91.3 (The Point)
- GV Student Interviews Well Known Radio Personality for WGVU Podcast (Grand Valley Lanthorn)
- WTJU to Celebrate New Home with a Guinness World Record Attempt (UVA Today)
- Spinning Records: 82 DJs Celebrate New WTJU Studio (Daily Progress)
- Uprooting Radio: At WTJU’s New Home, DJs Spin Records to Break a Record (C-VILLE Weekly)
- 88.9 WRDL to Celebrate Vinylthon April 13 (Ashland Source)
- SIUE Mass Communications Week Amplifies Voices of Media Professionals (RiverBender)
- SUNY college radio station to Broadcast at NAB (Talkers)
- RA Reviews: Laurel Halo – DJ Kicks (Resident Advisor)
- Martha Quinn’s MTV Memories on Totally ’80s Week (iHeartRadio)
- Lola Plaku Talks her Career in the Music Industry and More (Coveteur)
- How I got to CSULB after a Decade in Community College (DIG MAG)
Awards and Accolades
- KJACK – Top College Radio (NAZ Today)
- WSOU’s Jose Feliciano Honored as One of Radio’s Rising Stars (Seton Hall University)
- WLAS Radio’s IBS Triumph (Lasell College 1851 Chronicle)
- Best Radio Station for Local Music: KUNM (Weekly Alibi)