Posts Tagged ‘College Radio’

“Ryan McDaid is very particular about the music he chooses for his radio show. One of the first requirements is that few can have ever heard it before.”

So begins a wonderful profile of student-run radio at Boston College, published by The Heights.  It documents the tale of two campus stations, including the FM-regulated WZBC, whose staffers shun top 40 hits like H1N1 in favor of eclectic, “experimental,” and “progressive” songs that deserve greater airplay and may be the future of music.

Literally, according to the Heights, its flagship evening show is titled “No Commercial Potential,” a program embodying the best of college radio.  It is out there.  It is solely about the music.  And it revels in the reality that for all the listeners it scares away it may lead others down the path of unparalleled personal music revelation.

The bottom line, according to McDaid: “Every new student is coming in as an individual, with their own history and taste in music. It would be absurd to think that one type of music is always going to be what the entire student body wants to hear. What we are doing is putting out a certain type of music, and if you want to hear new music or expand your musical palette, then listen to us . . . There are so many outlets to listen to mainstream radio, there are so few outlets to listen to intellectually progressive programming, which is what we are offering.”

Read Full Post »

Billed as “distinctively non-commercial,” the student-run JACradio at the University of Queensland has been pumping out the music and talk online 24/7 since its debut in May.   It is the latest entrant into Australia’s radio Webosphere- and according to one report the UQ School of Journalism and Communication (JAC) has been “overwhelmed by the number of students wanting to take part and also the website’s traffic.”

JACradio

The site currently lists 15 staffers, and the names of their 15 programs scream eclectic student radio mix.  A few of my favorites: “Em and Stacey’s Banter Show,” “Neophilia,” and “Pickles and Fez.”  The program director’s take: “The whole idea is to prepare students for the future and the internet is definitely the future of radio.” In a separate interview he defined his goals for JACradio only slightly sarcastically: “I’m hoping it will conquer the world.”

Read Full Post »

The turntables are still turning, new podcasts are humming, indie bands are still being discovered, and social networking is drawing in new listeners at college radio stations worldwide.  According to a new Chicago Daily Herald piece (a localized version of a December 2008 New York Times article), the student radio revolution of the 21st-century is a mix of old school and all-things-digital.

Rev Moose, editor in chief of College Music Journal: “Instead of killing it, the Internet has just forced college radio to get more creative.  College DJs are producing some of the best music podcasts out there, for example.”

Also, here’s a separate recent piece from Imprint Magazine by the talented Kelsey McArdle on making the most of the modern college radio experience.  I was humbled to be cited in the piece.  Here’s my take on student radio’s timeless appeal: “From those with whom I’ve spoken and observed, college radio holds a trifecta-sized mystique: on-the-job learning, an empowerment to rock the house the way you want and the opportunity to be surrounded in studio-sized confines with peers who think and behave the same way you do.”

Read Full Post »

College radio stations will be hurting- and some might even be forced to go quiet- with the passage of new legislation requiring non-commercial stations to pay music royalty fees and deliver regular music reports.

As The Daily Texan dutifully reports, under the proposed bill, all stations (including student-run radio) would have to pay annual royalties of $500 to $1,000 and ante up for expensive new equipment to report what they’re playing.

A snippet from the Texan piece: “[S]tations would have to build a system to account for every song they play, what time the song starts, how many times it is played and the number of people listening online. This would be a problem for disc jockeys at stations like KVRX [student station at UT-Austin], who often play songs from vinyls, CDs or iPods. The radio stations would be forced to devise new way to efficiently record this information. [A Radio Free Alliance spokeswoman says] ‘Stations would have to come up with the money to put these systems in place, taking away even more money in addition to the $500 to $1000 royalty fees. That would put a pinch on an already tight budget.’”

Read Full Post »

Campus radio stations in the online age are keeping their anti-Top 40 attitudes even as they smartly adapt, according to a recent report in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

In greater Sioux Falls, the student stations are “are reaching beyond the confines of the college campus” via enhanced signal coverage, Webcasting, programs directed at minority groups (including Ethiopian and Spanish language broadcasts), and even the addition of shows hosted by outside community residents.  Wonderful stuff.  The result: Greater interaction with off-campus listeners, including local prison inmates (who apparently appreciate the hard metal music most).

Simultaneously, the stations still strive to deliver the underground, local, indie, and alternative music goods they have long made it their goal to get on the air.  And, in the most obvious sentiment of the stations’ long-term identities remaining intact: As the article notes, most students on the stations’ home campuses still do not know they exist.  :-)

Read Full Post »

A recent New York Times article on how college radio has “maintain[ed] its mojo” in a new media universe makes me mad.  I have no problem with the focus of the piece.  College student radio stations definitely deserve a shout-out.  I just think the NYT piece suffers from numerous cliches of vision and arguments that are badly supported and end up contradicting each other.

————-

First, the cliches.  Here’s the opening scene-setter:

————-

A pizza box and half a dozen laptops lay open in the poster-lined basement lounge of WRPI, the radio station of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.  As a soda machine hummed, students prepared to record a local metal band and debated whether reggae is fundamentally a 1970s style or “transcends the boundaries of time.”  It was the kind of scene that has played out countless times at campus radio stations. . .

————-

You’re kidding!  A student media area filled with pizza, soda, posters, other clutter, and discussion of off-beat topics?! Maybe I’ve spent too much time in student newsrooms and TV/radio studios in my short time here on Earth, but that description strikes me as more cliche than rain filled with cats and dogs and darkness before the dawn.  Even the start of the nut graph that follows admits it.  Give me something fresh!

————-

The article then goes on to actually call college radio “an anachronism, an analog remnant in a digital world.”  Like, say, newspapers, primetime TV, John McCain, home phones, non-online dating, and non-laser-surgery eyes?  I literally cannot think of a more overused sentiment in recent years to describe the old-new media divide.  Drop the Shakespeare.  We get it.  It’s old-school.

————-

The piece also points out that college radio’s new media transitioning can be seen by the fact that some student DJs are also bloggers . . . MUCH LIKE THE REST OF THE POPULATION.  There is no evidence offered whatsoever that the student radioheads keep blogs because they are involved with college radio.  Instead, it’s probably because they’re young, online a lot, can spell WordPress, and want to write about what interests them.

————-

Next, the counterproductive and scantily-backed-up arguments.  The piece attempts to draw conclusions about a decline in college radio listenership while admitting “[h]ard numbers about ratings for campus radio are scarce.”  Instead, it shows off the only numbers the reporter could find: those touting the downward trend of radio listening overall among the younger generation.  The number is irrelevant.  Just because students are listening to radio in the outside world less does not automatically mean they are listening to college radio less.  As I mentioned in a recent discussion with Center for Innovation in College Media director Bryan Murley, students have said for years that their readership of professional newspapers is down, down, down, but if you asked them most would confirm that they are still picking up their campus newspaper regularly and at times passionately.

————-

You can’t make an A (what students do with outside media) = B (what students do with campus media) argument here, especially without any reliable, relevant stats.  (And let’s be honest, even the most impassioned student DJ won’t try to convince you that college radio has ever boasted a massive audience, regardless of the decade, i.e. you can’t have a dramatic drop in listeners if you don’t have that many to start with.)

————-

Finally, the piece first says that college radio stations “no longer enjoy the influence they had” in promoting and discovering new music, which according to the article apparently reached a peak in the 1980s and 1990s.  But it then mentions that, for two of the hottest new indie acts, “college radio played a far greater role in their good fortune than Web sites” and that “[c]ollege radio is more of a real barometer of what people like and what people are listening to than blogs.”  So which is it, still influential or not so much?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: