Thursday, November 13, 2008

College Radio in Detroit

There's the most amazing article about college radio today in Metromode called "Metro Detroit's Real Radio." Full of great quotes and photographs from Detroit-area college radio stations, the piece by Dennis Archambault displays an immense amount of love and respect for freethinking college radio stations.

According to the article:

"The more things sound different, the more they seem the same on college radio. A longstanding alternative to commercial formats, 'free-form' student-run radio is a variety show for adventurous listeners with eccentric audio tastes, including occasional dead air, local references, irreverent comments and unpolished delivery to remind you that this is, indeed, amateur radio.

In an era when the airwaves are ruled by distant conglomerates that shift programming formats according to ratings and jam as much advertising in as listeners will tolerate while 'public' radio adopts a largely talk, syndicated format, Metro Detroit's college radio stations (including CJAM, broadcasting from the University of Windsor) offer a fresh sound."

The piece features interviews with members of a number of Detroit-area stations, including:

WHFR-FM (Henry Ford Community College)
Dennis writes: "The station programs contemporary music, from indie rock to blues, jazz and classical, as well as experimental and 'noise.'"

WUMD (University of Michigan-Dearborn)
WUMD is a freeform station that streams online and on campus.

WCBM-FM (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
WCBM is a freeform station at University of Michigan. Campus radio has a lengthy history in Ann Arbor, stretching back to the very early days of radio.

The article concludes by quoting the General Manager of WCBM, Brent Rioux, talking about the culture of college radio. Dennis writes:

"According to Rioux, college radio is like assembling 'all of the weirdos, people with debilitating social problems and crazy record collections…and you put them in a poorly ventilated basement and they fight over everything, but they have a common goal of doing something different, something strange, to get it out there if only to relieve themselves. Are they doing it for themselves or for the public? It's both. You're purging these weird record geek demons while, hopefully, interesting someone along the way.'"

I couldn't agree more!

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