Friday, September 12, 2008

Black College Radio Stations Role in Public Radio?

An article in the most recent issue of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, discusses potential opportunities for college radio at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). According to "Media Experts Say HBCU Radio Stations are Underused,"

"Addressing a group of HBCU presidents, faculty and staff, Loretta Rucker, executive director of the African-American Public Radio Consortium (AAPRC), said, 'The biggest kept secret among [Black colleges] is a network of African-American stations that could be providing all the things to our community mainstream stations are not.'

The AAPRC was created in 2000 to provide the financial means to better serve Black listeners. The consortium is currently composed of 20 member stations, most of which are located at HBCUs."

It definitely makes sense to me that these college radio stations could help to expand the listening audience and perspectives presented on public radio, as the article points out:

"According to information provided at the forum, HBCU radio stations reach half of all Black public radio listeners across the nation. Texas Southern University’s radio station, 90.0 FM KTSU, reaches 300,000 people a week, Rucker said. 'How do we galvanize [our resources] to put our stories on national public radio?'

There are roughly 60 Black college radio stations scattered across the nation. Wendy Williams, general manager of WCLK FM, a public radio station licensed to Clark Atlanta University, is in charge of one of most successful. With a 10-person staff and a six-figure budget, Williams is forging a strong bond between the institution, CAU, and the city of Atlanta."

However, it's clear that there are tons of non-public radio affiliated college radio stations doing cool programming for their communities. Does that necessarily mean that they are missing out? I think the "media expert" (who clearly has a vested interest in public radio) quoted in this article didn't realize that she was inadvertently slamming a lot of "campus" stations who are doing a lot of great work. The article states:

"Campus radio stations are not a new phenomenon. For years, colleges and universities have provided training outlets for their students to learn the fundamentals of sales, promotions, programming, producing and news writing for radio. HBCUs must advance the mission of the campus station, and, consider a public radio format, Rucker suggested. 'Let's stop thinking it's just campus radio. It's really about serving the public,' she said."

Wow...what do you think? Does "campus" (meaning non-public) radio not serve the public? In my opinion, just because there is no public radio affiliation, it doesn't mean that a college radio station doesn't present a variety of community perspectives and serve the public. In fact, I'm aware of so many fantastic college radio stations that think far beyond the campus.

No comments: