Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mt. Hood Community College Station Relaunched as "the Quarry"

Oregon's Mt. Hood Community College just relaunched their Internet radio station this week (on May 19th) as The Quarry, with the slogan "we break new rock." According to an article yesterday in The Outlook, the station is changing its emphasis to "...expose emerging and under-the-radar musical artists." The station, formerly known at KMHC, has been around since the 1970s, but has been through a number of format changes, including a period when it played "extreme rock" under the station name X-58.

According to the article:

"The Quarry playlist, geared toward the 18-to-24 age demographic, will be updated on a weekly basis. Songs or artists that get tepid listener and DJ response will make way for what clicks with listeners...The station is affiliated with the College Music Journal (CMJ) and pays attention to the independent radio bible’s charts. That doesn’t mean students behind the microphone don’t have a say in the sounds...

CMJ charts serve as a baseline from which Quarry students can expand. Working with broadcast professors...[program director and faculty advisor] Kiggins aims to balance a sense of freedom and adventure with solid principles of business and promotion.

'We’re teaching students how to deal with music promotion – how to get the best response,' Kiggins said, noting the promotional value of direct pipeline to a college student body. 'It’s kind of a balancing act. We want to play what we want, but there’s a certain game to play. We are reporting (playlists) to a journal.'"

It's interesting to me that the station admits that reporting playlists to CMJ is part of an overall "game" in the music biz. The article continues:

"Al Sigala, Mt. Hood spokesman, says The Quarry provides a more realistic educational experience for media students, while providing a relevant campus cultural outlet. The station is broadcast through speakers at campus hot spots.

'One of the things we wanted to accomplish is to provide students with a real radio experience,' he said. 'It’s operated like a commercial station. It translates really well' to the commercial world."

So, although the station mission is similar to many college radio stations, in that it hopes to play underexposed artists, local bands, and musicians on the cusp of commercial success; it is also similar to pre-professional stations in its programming and promotional approach.

I think it's interesting to look at stations like "The Quarry" that have actively worked to re-brand themselves using slogans, etc. When I first started at Bowling Green State's radio station WBGU in 1995, staff had decided to change the station mascot from "The Shark" to "The Mole." Some of the station logos pronounced "the shark is dead" and referred to "the mole" as "your cancerous growth on the FM dial." There also was a lot of talk about how "The Mole" was a more relevant station name since moles live underground and the station played underground music. I wonder if they still call themselves the Mole? (P.S. I just realized that WBGU just celebrated its 60th! anniversary. You can read about their history on their Wikipedia page.)

Does your station have a specific name or slogan in addition to your call letters? Has your station ever changed its name or identity? How did listeners and staff respond to the change?

1 comment:

Kyle said...

I think the Shark and the Mole are dead. I do remember finding some old stickers lying around with the old mascots on them. I think in the last couple years there were some "retro" promo-items featuring the now-defunct mascots.