Among the many ratings on Princeton Review is a list of 2008's most popular college radio stations based on student surveys at 366 colleges (from The Best 366 Colleges publication). A number of institutions have taken issue with Princeton Review surveys for their questionable methodology and the college radio ranking is definitely problematic. Don't get me wrong, there are awesome stations on the list, but there's no way that this survey could really tell you which stations are most popular.
For one thing, quite often amazing college radio stations are unknown to students on campus, so it's hard to know how to interpret these ratings. Also, extremely popular stations may not even have a high percentage of student listeners, so the ratings don't capture the most popular stations in the country. There are also questions about the credibility of the survey, as an article in The Bona Venture points out:
"Last year's survey ranked St. Bonaventure's radio station, WSBU-FM 88.3 The Buzz, the No. 1 Best College Radio Station. [Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication] Wilkins said he wondered how many people from other campuses have even listened to The Buzz. The question on the survey that determines the No. 1 Best College Radio Station is 'How popular is the college radio station?' according to the press release. Wilkins said the survey does not ask if you have heard a better one from another campus. The system of measurement is how many 'very popular' responses they get. The more people who volunteer to do the survey, the higher on the list it will appear. He said it is not based on actual talent, just participation."
Another article discusses inconsistencies in how students are recruited to take the survey and states that survey takers can even be somewhat pre-selected by schools. It also mentions that the average number of survey takers per school is only about 300. By the way, any student can take the survey online as long as one has a valid school-issued email address.
With those caveats in mind, according to Princeton Review, the most popular college radio stations are at the following colleges (the ratings don't specify a specific station when multiple stations exist on a campus):
1. St. Bonaventure University (WSBU-88.3 FM, St. Bonaventure, New York)
2. Emerson College (WERS 88.9FM and WECB, Boston, Massachusetts)
3. DePauw University (WGRE 91.5 FM, Greencastle, Indiana)
4. Ithaca College (WICB 91.7 FM and VIC Radio, Ithaca, New York)
5. Brown University (BSR 88.1 FM and WBRU 95.5 FM, Providence, RI)
6. Guilford College (WQFS 90.9 FM, Greensboro, North Carolina)
7. Seton Hall University (WSOU 89.5 FM, South Orange, New Jersey)
8. Knox College (WVKC 90.7 FM, Galesburg, Illinois)
9. University of Puget Sound (KUPS 90.1 FM Tacoma, Washington)
10. Howard University (WHUR 96.3 FM & WHBC 830 AM, Washington D.C.)
11. Carleton College (KRLX 88.1 FM, Northfield, Minnesota)
12. Whitman College (KWCW 90.5 FM, Walla Walla, Washington)
13. Evergreen State College (KAOS 89.3 FM, Olympia, Washington)
14. Reed College (KRRC 97.9 FM, Portland, Oregon)
15. Alfred University (WALF 89.7 FM, Alfred, New York)
16. Skidmore College (WSPN 91.1 FM, Saratoga Springs, New York)
17. Swarthmore College (WSRN 91.5 FM, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)
18. Manhattanville College (WMVL 88.1 FM, Purchase, New York)
19. Bates College (WRBC 91.5 FM, Lewiston, Maine)
20. Denison University (WDUB 91.1 FM, Granville, Ohio)
Related to this list, New Music Nation writes a column called College Radio Buzz where they compile playlists from the websites of various college radio stations. A post this week highlights playlists and features from stations from the Princeton Review list of top stations.
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