Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Programming at Bellingham, Washington Station KUGS

The Western Washington University (Bellingham, Washington) radio station KUGS 89.3 FM was profiled today in the campus paper The Western Front. According to the piece, the station receives between 30 and 50 CDs a week and adds about 20 items to the library weekly.

The article quotes the station Music Director Chris Kazuo Mak, who says:

"'When I pick music, I try to find stuff that will be challenging to our listeners,' Mak said. 'Our niche is not to play "Top 40" music. We get to promote artists that don’t get a lot of airtime on commercial stations.'"

As the article continues, there's a discussion about how music is archived:

"Most music that doesn’t immediately receive airtime on KUGS gets archived in the music library, a series of shelves loaded with CDs from ceiling to floor in the station’s hallway.

But the station can’t store every album it receives, so KUGS volunteers and DJs sometimes end up taking home rejected music, Mak said."

In terms of programming rules, the station does ask DJs doing 2-hour non-specialty shows to play music that's designated to be in "current rotation," with some flexibility. The article states:

Jamie Hoover, general manager at KUGS, said DJs have ample opportunity to design their own playlists for both specialty shows and the more mainstream 'Music for the Masses' broadcasts...

DJs design their own playlist around the large selection of albums in rotation. Twice during a 'Music for the Masses' show, DJs are allowed to play any song they want.

'We don’t have those prescribed setlists that some stations have,' Hoover said. 'College radio can take more chances on artists, which allows for more breakthroughs.'...

A DJ has more freedom when planning a specialty show, but doing so can consume much more time than mapping out a 'Music for the Masses' playlist."

If I understand the policy correctly, non-specialty DJs are essentially only allowed to play one song an hour that's not in the current rotation library. I'm not sure how large the library of albums in current rotation is, but I wonder if DJs feel limited in that they can only choose a few tracks outside of that library. What do you think of this policy and how does it compare to your station? What other sorts of programming rules do you have?

Fun Historical Tidbits: KUGS, which has been around since 1974, was apparently the 2nd station in the U.S. to broadcast over the Internet (in 1997).

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