Friday, September 19, 2008

Pennsylvania College Radio Love by Former Teen Metalhead

The cover story of The Weekender this week lauds the importance of college radio in its home zone of Northeastern Pennsylvania. In his editorial lead-in, "Turn on, Tune in, or Lose out Words," Michael Lello writes about his love for college radio and his nostalgia after finding an old cassette tape that he'd recorded off of a college radio metal show when he was in high school. He writes:

"...When I was in an almost-obsessive metal phase during my high-school years, I found out about 'Metal Monday,' a show on WCLH, 90.7 FM, Wilkes University’s radio station. I would always have some blank cassettes at the ready on Monday after school in case a DJ played something I wanted to keep...’s fairly reasonable to conclude that I put together this little collection of songs in 1992. I was 15 years old. Why is any of this important? Well, it may sound a bit odd that a 15-year-old kid was listening to a college radio station. But it’s not that out if the ordinary. And not understanding (or understanding and not caring) that many listeners are adventurous and curious is one of the reasons commercial radio has become so out of touch...

But you don’t have to eat from the same trough. There have always been new and unique flavors out there, thanks to college radio, and more recent additions, namely satellite radio and online streaming. Campus radio has long been one of the most innovative and refreshing outlets for new and overlooked music, and these stations are more important now than ever, as many commercial stations dig in, cut budgets and refuse to take risks..."

In the cover article, "Academic Airwaves," he writes:

"Scanning the lower-frequency end of the FM band, you came across a punk or metal song you’ve never heard before. You were intrigued and waited until the DJ told you the name of the artist. Or during a road trip, frustrated with the numbing and repetitive sameness of the radio landscape, you pressed the seek button until your index finger got sore, begging for something different to keep you awake, until something fresh caught your ear. If this sounds familiar, you’ve listened to college radio."

He goes on to spotlight the following local college radio stations in Northeastern Pennsylvania:

WSFX 89.1 and 105.5 FM (Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke, PA)

The article includes a quote from WSFX's Music Director Pat Yurista, who says, "'We base our music off the nationwide magazine, the CMJ New Music Report.'" Pat continues, saying, "...'A lot of new bands use that as a launching pad, but you’ll also see Coldplay and the Foo Fighters on there. We also get in touch with local and nationwide record companies to get them to promote their music. We’ll take the time to listen to the CD, and if it’s good enough, we will play it.'"

VMFM 91.7 FM (Marywood University, Scranton, PA)

The format of this station is college alternative, with some exceptions. According to the article,

"There is room for variation, though, explained Brian Johnson, VMFM’s program director, including a weekly country show, a metal and hard rock show called 'Mayhem Til Midnight' and a Top 10 show, which combines songs on the CMJ charts with VMFM’s own most-played 'currents,' or newly added tracks. Some of the songs VMFM works into its rotation can also be heard and seen on shows like MTV2’s 'Subterranean.'"

WRKC 88.5 FM (King's College, Wilkes Barre, PA)

WRKC is a 440 watt station at King's College that's been around since 1942. According to their website, "WRKC programming includes alternative, hardcore, punk, emo, Christian country, blues, gospel, electronic, dancehall, reggae, Triple A, alt country and rpm."

The article in The Weekend points out that on the station," can catch 'Smooth Jams' — a show that juxtaposes aggressive hard rock and metal with soothing, smooth-talking DJs — or even the 'Radio Home Visitor,' in which the Rev. Tom Carten reads community news to the visually impaired."

Cougar Radio (Misericordia University, Dallas, PA)

According to the article, Misericordia College's station "...debuted...on the university’s campus cable system before it began streaming online a year ago..." and " working on re-establishing the station online."

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