Monday, June 8, 2009

College Radio Tidbits: Trustafarians, KCSM Funding Woes, LPFM Victory, KTCU Radio Fame, and Koko Taylor's College Radio Fan

Sifting through the recent news, I've come across a few college radio-related tidbits:

College Radio and Trustafarians in Brooklyn

Oh no, college radio kids are getting lumped into the pejorative category of trustafarians in this piece from the New York Times that chronicles the changing demographics in Brooklyn's Williamsburg. According to the article, "

"Luis Illades, an owner of the Urban Rustic Market and Cafe on North 12th Street, said he had seen a steady number of applicants, in their late 20s, who had never held paid jobs: They were interns at a modeling agency, for example, or worked at a college radio station. In some cases, applicants have stormed out of the market after hearing the job requirements.

'They say, "You want me to work eight hours?" ' Mr. Illades said. 'There is a bubble bursting.'

Famed for its concentration of heavily subsidized 20-something residents — also nicknamed trust-funders or trustafarians — Williamsburg is showing signs of trouble. Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city’s most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue’s boutiques and coffee houses."

Jazz-oriented KCSM Loses Chunk of School Funding

The state of California is definitely in a financial crisis and it's not surprising that the effects of this are trickling down to college radio stations at state-funded schools. Public radio station KCSM is located at the College of San Mateo and survives due to not only donations, but also because of financial support from the school. According to a San Mateo Times article (posted on the San Jose Mercury website),

"'We're one of the very few, one of the last remaining all-jazz stations in the country, in the world,' said program director Melanie Berzon, who lamented the recent format change from soft jazz to classic rock at KKSF-FM. 'They're dropping like flies. We're losing jazz stations and jazz formats hand over fist.'

KCSM (91.1 FM), licensed to the San Mateo County Community College District, has received the bulk of its funding from listeners for years, Berzon said. But a 12 percent chunk of its operating budget expected from the school district fell through this year when the district experienced deep cuts from the state, she said.

The station's recent pledge drive drew more donations than ever, but it is still trying to bridge a $40,000 gap by June 30, when its fiscal year ends and the school has to decide whether to keep the station running, Berzon said."

Low Power FM Victory

An extensive article on Ars Technica outlines the recent court victory for low power FM (LPFM) radio stations, who will continue to be protected from encroachment by big broadcasters. Matthew Lasar writes:

"Supporters of low-power FM (LPFM) radio won a victory on Friday when a federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit to stop the Federal Communications Commissions from protecting LPFM stations from full power station signal interference...

When battling artist performance fees the National Association of Broadcasters touts the 'free and local' nature of over-the-air radio, but the trade association is an ardent enemy of the most local and accessible part of the FM dial, the FCC's LPFM service. These approximately 800 educational stations, operating at 10 or 100 watts, commit to eight hours of local programming a day in exchange for their licenses. That's probably much more than your typical big-signal commercial license provides, even though many of them operate at one hundred times the power of LPFMs..."

There could be a lot more of these stations on the FM dial, but when the FCC first authorized the service in 2000, the NAB and National Public Radio claimed that they would interfere with full-power signals, and got Congress to force a "third adjacent rule" on the service. No LPFMs could be licensed within three channels to the left or right of a big signal station, for the most part limiting the concept to less urbanized areas.

TCU Radio Announcer Profiled after ESPN Broadcast

Texas Christian University radio station KTCU got a little bit of radio fame recently, as their baseball play by play got picked up on ESPN. A Star-Telegram article states:

"Chuck LaMendola only planned on filling in for a couple of years before TCU figured out a permanent plan for baseball radio play-by-play in 1997.

The instructor of Television, Radio, Film and Digital Media at TCU never left the booth and is in his 13th season as the voice of Horned Frogs’ baseball on KTCU/88.7 FM.

And for the first time in team history, Frogs baseball was heard on ESPN/103.3 FM on Saturday. It’s exciting, LaMendola said, but more so for friends and family around the Metroplex that normally wouldn’t be in range to pick up KTCU’s signal."

College Radio Memories of Koko Taylor

Some of the best college radio stories show up in random places, like this lovely recollection about the recently departed musician Koko Taylor that I found posted as a comment on Paul writes:

"In September of 1984, Koko Taylor headlined 'Folk ‘n’ Blues,' an annual music festival at Beloit College. I had a 9-midnight radio show on the college station (WBCR 90.3FM) to do before I could head over to the show. I knew Koko from her roots in Chicago, seen her at one of the Halsted St. blues clubs, B.L.U.E.S., maybe. That night, at WBCR, I dug through the alpha stacks of vinyl and found some Koko, played maybe 5 or 6 cuts.

When I got to the festival, Koko was just finishing her first set. We danced ’til our legs hurt … which takes a long time when you’re 19, I realize now. Koko was sweating, too. It was a constant state for her. Might not have recognized her otherwise; the ALBUM cover was sweating. After the second set, I somehow got up the nerve to go backstage and talk to her. Told her I was a big fan, lied and told her I was from Chicago (suburbs, really). She was so gracious. I asked if I could make a request.

'Sure, honey,' she said. I asked for 'Hey, Bartender.' She would probably have played it anyway; I came to learn it was a signature tune. 'Ha!' she laughed. 'Heard THAT one on the radio, comin’ in here! That was nice, wasn’t it?' she said to a bandmate. 'Was,' he said. I could barely contain myself. 'That was me!' I burst out, 'I - I played that. I just left the station …'

(It should be noted that WBCR was a 10 WATT station at the time. A year later, it’d be 1000 watts. You can hear it today from Rockford to Madison, but at 10 watts, you were lucky to hear it on the whole CAMPUS. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool to see her excited by a little airplay.)

'Honey,' she said. 'You play Koko on the radio, you c’make all the requests you WaooNT!'"

That's one of the coolest college radio tales that I've ever heard. Has a celebrity ever checked out your show?

1 comment:

Keane said...

Cool blog! I live in SF, write for Performer Mag and work for a startup social media agency. Didn't know about some of these events.