Wednesday, December 24, 2008

WICB College Radio DJ's Journey into the Music Biz

A couple of pieces in Ithaca College student publication The Fuse, share the story of one college radio DJ and his journey into the music industry. In the article "Adventures in College Radio", recent college graduate and former WICB DJ and Assistant Music Director John-Severin Napolillo talks about his love for radio and how his job in college radio has opened doors for his future career. (Another article gives a run-down of his daily tasks when he was WICB Assistant Music Director). He writes:

"...Impressed by my hard work, the music director offered me the assistant music director’s position...As assistant I hosted a weekly show premiering new music. I picked and monitored the new music that was played and reported it to the College Music Journal as a contributor to their weekly charts. I attended concerts for free and got to interview the bands. I had to pinch myself halfway through sophomore year when I found myself hanging out backstage with the Walkmen, one of my favorite bands. I also talked to radio promoters across the country on a weekly basis, tracking the success of hot new bands not only on WICB but at stations across the country."

He eventually spent a semester in Los Angeles doing an internship at Capitol Records. Following that he was granted a paid summer radio internship in New York at commercial station WLTW. John adds that none of this would have been possible without college radio:

"As a recent graduate I'm currently pursuing a career in radio while performing with my bands. When I look back on the great experiences I’ve had in the entertainment industry I’m reminded of the doors that college radio has opened for me. I’m sure they will continue to open for years to come."

In my experience, a pretty small number of college radio DJs have dreams of working in the industry, either in commercial radio, at a record label, or in music promotions. Personally, I cherish the freedom of college radio, and could not imagine having to play someone else's playlist at a commercial station. I also feared that working in music as a career would destroy my love for it. However, I spent one year working at an Internet music company, and it was actually the best job I've ever had. Working with music every day only enhanced my love for it and I couldn't believe that I was being paid to write about music and interview bands.

How about your station, do many of the DJs and staff members hope to work in the music biz?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Angry College Radio DJ

Has there just been too much college radio love lately? Perhaps....

In a post yesterday on NeoAvant called "Thoughts of An Angry College Radio DJ Pt.1," a college radio DJ rants a bit about the state of the station, writing:

"...I’m a DJ at my university radio station. It’s a shitty and excellent job. First off, most of the people I work with are either together with their job or just… annoying as fuck. Most everyone has this 'hipster' shit down- not only do they wear skinny jeans, but they cream said jeans over Tobacco and Deerhoof. Fuck those people… I’ve made it my main goal to play everything that they’re not playing. Not just for my sanity… but for the listeners out there who’ve heard the latest Sub Pop records album a million times already.

Don’t get me wrong - I like most of the djs and staff… but some people are so predictable that it hurts."

Does this sound like your college radio station? Do most of your DJs like the same bands? Who are the rebels? Are they the folks playing mainstream music or the people playing obscure, underground artists?

The author goes on to critique the station's Music Department:

"It’s crazy… our music directors in the past have given us crap for expanding our listening to include certain artists that AREN’T played otherwise, and for having fun by playing songs by random notable artists that you never hear on other stations. We’re young, we’re on the air, and we SHOULD be rebelling against the system and playing old LL Cool J at 4am."

I'm not sure I get the entire argument (especially in terms of who is rebelling against what), but it seems like the author worries that the station is afraid of taking chances and sticks to a standard college radio sound. That's never a good thing, and there are lots of critiques out there against the standardization and mainstream sounds found on college radio. I agree that all Music Directors should be challenged to have broad, eclectic playlists that are NOT based on music charts or the top hits listed in CMJ.

What's your college radio rant? And, how do you deal with drama, in-fighting, and differences in music taste at your station?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Texas Tech Radio Station KTXT is Shut Down and Protests Begin

Wow. This is a scary story. I just read on the College Broadcasters, Inc. website that nearly 50-year-old college radio station KTXT at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas was abruptly shut down on December 10th by the university. Apparently the school is shifting its priorities as far as student media go, and the station was seen as a financial drain, and perhaps, not "new media" enough for the school. What's shocking is that KTXT is a prominent 35,000 watt FM station that has played an influential role in radio, airing music not otherwise heard in the area. According to a December 10, 2008 piece on the KTXT website:

"...'We agonized over this decision and looked for ways to enhance KTXT-FM's role within the Texas Tech community, but ultimately we had to face the fact that changes needed to be made,' said Susan Peterson, director for Student Media. 'We recognize this is a huge loss to those who are loyal to KTXT-FM - its listeners and its staff - but the department must grow and change in order to best serve the entire student body.'...

'The overwhelming financial demands of operating an FM radio station, coupled with the radical changes in the radio broadcast industry, made it clear that we need to rethink our definition of broadcast media and refocus our commitment to bolstering student learning,' Peterson said. 'As they prepare to find jobs after graduation, our students depend on us to enhance the skills learned in the classroom. To meet that need, Student Media must adapt to the changes dictated by the industry.'"

Can you imagine if this happened to your college radio station? There's a huge push by staff members, listeners, supporters, and alum to encourage the university to reverse this decision. As of today, there are more than 4200 members of a Save KTXT group on Facebook. From that page you can learn more about how to show your support for the station, which I'd encourage any fan of non-commercial radio to do.

I'd hope that the station will resume operations and that those who made this decision will take a moment to read the passionate comments by KTXT listeners which can be found attached to many of the articles about the station shut-down, such as the following comments on a Houston Chronicle story:

"I was born and raised in lubbock Texas, and lived there from 1978 to 1999. KTXT specially the show DJed by the Cat in the Hat played a major role in defining the person I would become.

I distinctly remember hearing punk rock for the first time on the radio, which immediately gravitated to. Not only did this music introduce me to the music that would define my childhood and adult interest, but it also brought me into the crowd and scene in which I met my some of my most life long friends. KXTX is the only things that made Lubbock more than a cow town. Please don't take this away from the kids struggling to live there now. - Anthony Armendariz, Brooklyn NYC"

And another by a more recent DJ at the station:

"Fall '08 I finally got the guts to volunteer for KTXT, a radio station I'd been listening to for approx. 6 years. The experience was amazing. I made new friends, promoted up and coming bands, and got to make some listeners' day by playing music they would be unable to hear on any other Lubbock radio station. I have a lot of friends who would rather listen to dead air than mainstream Lubbock radio. KTXT provided an alternative, and it's a tragedy to have it taken away with absolutely no notice.

KTXT FM brought bands, art, music, and culture which Lubbock desperately needs. It was a valuable asset to the Lubbock community, a community which only receives national coverage when "the powers that be" make another mistake such as not allowing a GSA group for teens at local schools, arresting the Chippendales for dancing provocatively, and now shutting down the only good radio station that Lubbock has... had."

It's incredibly short-sighted and disappointing to me when a university fails to understand the impact of college radio on the broader community. Even if a radio station isn't the most popular station on campus, even if only a handful of students listen, and even if its DJs are a mere subculture of the university, the station is still playing a very powerful role. Many of the most passionate listeners might be community members, so they should also be considered when taking away such a vital community service.

KTXT is clearly a well-loved station and influential station with many listeners, so hopefully those fans and other non-commercial radio supporters will be able to galvanize in order to bring the station back. It might be that the station will need to become more self-sufficient financially, a not-uncommon practice in college radio. In any event, the station should be given a chance to survive....and I'd really like to be able to feature them on my Spinning Indie 50 State Tour. Catch this blurb about their illustrious past from the KTXT Wikipedia page:

"88.1 has, since the early 1980s, offered an eclectic mix of alternative programming ranging from oldies, new wave-80s, Reggae to house/trance, rock, country and indie. The 1980s led the way to the introduction of Reggae music to the South Plains area. Reggae bands were booked in local clubs as a result and Lubbock experienced a boom in world music influence locally.

As with all college radio during the 1980s, KTXT-FM was responsible for expanding the minds and opening the ears to the sounds of up in coming bands like REM, U2 and The Clash. Whilst other stations in Lubbock stuck with the CHR (Chart Hits Radio) format, KTXT-FM drew many listeners away from commercial radio with their alternative programming thus forcing the commercial stations to pay attention to KTXT's playlists and DJs. Many veteran DJs can claim KTXT-FM as their first home on the air and are currently employed throughout the US as a result."

Sounds like a really cool place. So, please, do what you can to show your support for KTXT. If this shut-down is truly a done deal, than this is a very dangerous precedent.

College and Community Radio Tidbits - 1980s College Radio Nostalgia and Community Radio Station Crisis in Colombia

1980s College Radio Nostalgia

The recent NY Times piece on college radio certainly generated some commentary, including a blog post on My Aimz Is True about the writer's connection to college radio in the 1980s and 1990s and how it helped shape her music taste and turned her on to songs by They Might Be Giants, the Smiths and Husker Du. She writes:

"College radio had a huge influence on developing my musical tastes in the 1980s and early 90s. Growing up in small town Wisconsin, I listened to WRST from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. They even let some of my high school friends DJ, usually at 4a.m. on Thursdays. My only other source of alternative music came from friends who had older siblings in college, and they passed on what they heard at their local college stations to we high school underlings."

Community Radio Station in Colombia Under Siege
Non-commercial radio faces many obstacles in the U.S., mainly over struggles about funding, volunteer involvement, and connecting with an audience. But, imagine, if your station was under siege by outside groups, and was repeatedly vandalized. A post on the MAMA Radio blog talks about a community radio station in Colombia whose transmissions have been compromised due to vandalism and equipment theft. By the way, the author of this blog, Mario Murillo, is a Hofstra professor and radio veteran (WBAI, NPR, WHRU at Hofstra) currently working in Colombia. He's also involved with college radio in Columbia at radio station Javeriana Estereo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Radio Journal Article and the Origins of Spinning Indie

It was just about a year ago that the idea for Spinning Indie was born. As I completed the edits on a piece that I was writing about college radio for an academic journal (which I submitted in summer 2007), I realized that I had a lot more to say about the subject and needed an outlet for all of those ideas. I'd spent much of last December voraciously reading everything I could find about college and indie radio to add some context to my article. There was very little college radio scholarship out there, so most of the books that I read were about related topics like the history of radio, freeform radio and pirate radio. The college radio scholarship that I did find was fascinating, much of it done for MA theses and PhD dissertations. In fact, some of the most impressive work about college radio was done by graduate students, many of whom seemed to be active radio participants as well as scholars. Holly Kruse's book, Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes, was the stand-out among everything I read. It was also inspiring, as the book deal stemmed from her dissertation.

Since I started Spinning Indie, I've been able to connect with more college radio academics, definitely a small crew of great folks. In the months to come, I plan to summarize more academic articles related to college radio. In the meantime, the fruits of my academic labor are finally available for consumption, as my Radio Journal piece was published a few months back. I was hoping to be able to provide free access to the entire article online, but unfortunately there's only free access to the abstract (you can pay to see the entire article).

My piece, "Does 'indie' mean independence? Freedom and restraint in a late 1990s US college radio community" appears in Volume 5, Numbers 2 & 3 (2007) of The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media. This is my very first academic article, so needless to say I'm excited to see my name in print.

My article actually goes back in time to discuss a period during the 1990s when college radio was often working to define itself against commercial culture's embrace of "alternative" music. Since "indie" and "alternative" were being gobbled up and repackaged for commercial airplay and commercial sale, many college stations found themselves becoming even more vigilant about supporting independence from corporate control and corporate media.

The station that I write about in my article took a radical stance, only adding artists on independent labels to regular rotation. In addition to that, to be added to the library, releases had to be free of any major label funding or major label distribution. As I write in my article,

"Deciding to include major label releases at any college station is a political statement and deciding to ban major label releases is equally political. Yet many releases do not clearly fall into one space or another, which is confusing and controversial when they are banned from a station. What is indie? Who decides? This becomes both an aesthetic and a power issue."

What was fascinating to me, was that some new people at the station didn't seem to understand or appreciate this policy. I write:

"While staff members at the radio station were supportive and proud of the indie-only policy, I found that people struggled with it and at times felt restricted by it. This article will interrogate that tension between theory and practice, raising the question ‘Does indie mean independence’? at this college station."

In the article I also give nods to some college radio scholarship and talk a bit about the contested and vague definitions of "alternative" and "indie" in the 1990s. I also discuss some disturbing trends in college radio, in which many stations are becoming more and more like commercial stations, with narrow playlists of songs.

I conclude, saying:

"As the radio industry had continued to change in the 1990s and in the early 2000s, the questions raised by this article take on added relevance. Holtermann (1992) and others cite concern about the increasingly homogenous playlists at college radio stations in the 1990s. Low power and ‘pirate’ stations were in some instances established as a reaction against college radio not fulfilling its promise. Sue Carpenter reflects that her pirate station in L.A. was ‘. . . not only a reaction against bad radio but a reaction against authority’ (Carpenter 2004).

If college radio continues to reflect mainstream radio more so than independent radio, than it may lose more and more listeners to low power stations, satellite radio (with hundreds of niche channels, yet corporate-controlled), the Internet (with indie radio stations, big commercial stations, podcasts, band websites and access to mp3s) and iPods (where anyone can make their own playlist of music).

Yet college radio stations with a strong philosophy about independent music can still hold an important place on the radio dial. College radio has been rarely studied and it is a compelling space in which to explore the tensions between mainstream commercial radio and the underground, independent responses to that. As they are often student and volunteer-run organisations, college radio stations have their own institutional structures, although they are still in close contact with the commercial record industry. This station is but one example of a college radio station with a strong philosophy about exposing unheard music to listeners, and future research would benefit from taking a broader look at college radio as a whole and at independent-minded stations in particular."

Long live indie college radio! And long live college radio scholarship. If you're working on something related to college radio, definitely send it my way, as I'd love to review more academic articles for Spinning Indie.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Photograph Your Vinyl for NPR

My collection of 45s from elementary school and junior high fits in the Tote 45

Thanks to Earbender, for cluing me in to a lively discussion about vinyl on the NPR blog "All Songs Considered" (affiliated with their new music show of the same name). The launching pad for this discussion was the piece "Vinyl: The New CD?" Robin Hilton writes:

"A while back on the blog, I mentioned that I had gotten rid of all my CDs because I thought the compact disc was a dying format. It's so much easier to access everything from a hard drive. When I asked listeners what they thought would be the music format to replace CDs, a handful of people said 'vinyl.' I thought it was funny, but I've come to realize that they may be right.

I've read a number of reports that sales of vinyl LPs and turntables are way up. Retailers speculate the obvious: Vinyl turns music into a tangible work of art, allowing a deeper connection between listener and artist. And many vinyl LPs now come with a code to download a free MP3 version of the album, giving listeners both the convenience of digital audio and the beauty of art you can hold in your hand.

Vinyl could save not only music as high art, but also the music industry itself...But vinyl is a perfect excuse for returning to an actual, physical record store, where you can lay down some money and walk out with something real. I'd love to see local record stores come back."

Robin has started buying vinyl again and asked readers to submit photos of their own vinyl collections (you can see one on this update). Ultimately, they set up a Flickr page where you can send in your pictures and view photos from other vinyl addicts' collections. It would be fun to see some radio station photos in there too.

Yes...that my Styx!

It was also pointed out in one of the posts that the NPR folks have been getting more vinyl in the mail lately:

"I've mentioned before that reports show sales of vinyl rising dramatically, but anecdotally I can say that record labels sent us more promo copies of new albums on vinyl this year than any year before (in recent history). I'm certain that we're bound to see more and more vinyl arriving in the mail."

I'm sure this is true. At my radio station we're adding lots of vinyl every week and I'm definitely playing more vinyl this year than a few years ago. What a fantastic trend!

College Radio Ode by WNUR Adviser

As you might imagine, there are always mixed reactions when a trend article in the New York Times declares that college radio is cool. On Mediageek, there's a fantastic article today about just that: NY Times Discovers College Radio Doesn't, no duh (love the title!)

Mediageek (aka Paul Riismandel) is a long-time college and community radio DJ and is currently the adviser for Northwestern University radio station WNUR (which I was lucky enough to visit last month for my ongoing series of radio station field trips). In his piece he gives a more in-depth perspective about why college radio is such a valuable cultural institution. He also reminds us how lucky we are to have thriving indie radio stations, especially in light of the death of so many college stations in recent years due to university greed, student apathy or frequency-hungry religious groups:

"Although it seems the bloodshed has slowed, during the 90s and early 00s there seemed to be quite a slate of student stations being reclaimed by college administrations in order to be repurposed into public radio stations or even sold off to the highest bidder (usually a church or christian broadcaster). It seems that things have now stabilized, and I hope that the remaining student-run stations are able to stay that way, although I fear the economic downturn again will make college-owned stations seem like tasty prospects for quick cash."

Paul also reminds us that college radio stations aren't solely the realm of students, that often non-student DJs are a vital part of a station's programming lineup (certainly the case at my station). This, in part, is one of the reasons that college radio provides an important community service. He states:

"It’s often overlooked that most college stations are also staffed by a percentage of community volunteers who bring in both community representation and a broader range of experience. While not the same as community radio, any community that has a student-run station should be thankful that this beacon of noncommercial integrity often comes as a partial or wholly-funded gift from the college or university that sponsors it.

Yes, it may esoteric, amateurish or occasionally sophomoric, but I also know that without college radio many a community would have no jazz, classical, bluegrass, blues or experimental music on its airwaves, in addition to the more youth-associated genres of indie rock, metal, rap, dance and electronic."

I couldn't agree more!

College Radio Story in New York Times

A few days ago the New York Times published an article, "In a Digital World, College Radio Perseveres," which discusses college radio's current role in the music landscape.

According to the article:

"...campus radio stations...for generations have served as a clubhouse for connoisseurs and a training ground for the music industry."

In discussing Troy, New York radio station WRPI (at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), the article makes an interesting (and surprising) point that student DJs may not even been avid radio listeners. The article states:

"But when WRPI’s student D.J.’s leave the studio, they said, they are unlikely to listen to the radio at all. 'Even when I’m in the car, I’m usually listening to my iPod and not that much to the station,' said Blair Neal, the music director."

The article goes on to argue that with decreased listenership, college radio stations may not have the same role in the music biz that they once did:

"In the age of blogs and MySpace, college radio might seem an anachronism, an analog remnant in a digital world. With young people listening to the radio less, student stations no longer enjoy the influence they had when they gave bands like R.E.M. and Nirvana an early boost to stardom."

Yet, the piece also makes the point that college radio may be more influential than people realize, arguing:

"But instead of clashing with the Internet, the 700 or so college stations around North America have persevered alongside it, settling into a role as the slower but more loyal foil to the fickle blogosphere. And thanks to the continued passion of their personnel, the stations remain surprisingly successful at promotion, according to many in the music industry, playing a bigger part in breaking new acts than is usually acknowledged."

The article goes on to point out that college radio stations are much more likely to have an online presence, stating:

"To reach new audiences, college and other noncommercial stations have taken the lead in Internet broadcasting: 60 percent have Web streams, compared with 36 percent for all stations, according to RadioTime, an online service. KALX at the University of California, Berkeley, one of the most influential college stations, averages about 60 listeners at a time for its stream, and often has more than 100, said Sandra Wasson, its general manager. But most stations have seen only a trickle."

I agree. And would add that college radio stations often do a much better job with technology in general. Their websites are typically more sophisticated than commercial radio websites and they are much more likely to have regularly updated blogs and pages on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spinning Indie 50 State Tour: Stop 8 - West Virginia's WSHC

It's time for another stop on the Spinning Indie 50 State Tour. The goal of this project is to do interviews with college radio stations from each of the 50 states in order to highlight fascinating stations (and their tales) from all over the U.S.

The first seven virtual stops have been to stations in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Louisiana, Alaska, North Dakota and Nevada.

For my 8th stop, today we visit Shepherd University station WSHC-FM. College radio station WSHC is located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. Their first official broadcast was in 1974, but student-produced radio experiments were happening on campus as early as the 1950s. The station has been broadcasting 24 hours a day for about 8 years, and started netcasting in 2005. WSHC emphasizes "alternative" music and DJs are given complete freedom to program their shows.

Thanks to WSHC's Assistant Manager Todd Cotgreave for talking to me about the station. In his interview he discusses the history of the station, WSHC's role in the local music scene (including plans to set up a recording studio), the station's continued use of vinyl and cassettes, and a tale about in-studio levitation during one of their public affairs shows.

Spinning Indie: What motivated you to get involved with college radio?

Todd: I grew up listening to WCDE in Elkins WV, a 100 watt college station. I thought that was the coolest station ever. They played and said whatever they felt like. It sounded so much better than all of the commercial stations.

Spinning Indie: I understand that WSHC has been around since 1974. Can you share with me some interesting bits of trivia from the station's history?

Todd: In the mid 1950's it was run over a wire to the "Rams Den" (the campus lounge). In 1974 we were given 10 watts at 88.5 and no budget at all. The first song broadcast was "Blackwater" by the Doobie Brothers. In the early 80's the FCC told us to boost power or move to the commercial side of the radio. Because there was no budget we were bumped to 93.7. In the late 80's a new College President came to town and wanted to be able to hear the station at his house one mile away. In 1991 we went to our current status of 950 watts at 89.7. We began ...internet broadcasting within the last couple of years.

Spinning Indie: What's the overall music philosophy of the station?

Todd: We focus on being eclectic and well out of the mainstream path. You can listen to other stations for top 40. We want you to hear what a small educated town has to offer.

Spinning Indie: What's the music scene like in Shepherdstown and the surrounding areas and how is your station involved with local music?

Todd: [There is a] strong local music scene with lots of diversity. WSHC has been promoting local artists for years and in the next year will be spotlighting more locals and setting up concerts for them. We are also setting up a recording studio to help up and coming locals make albums. We feel it is very important to be as involved as possible with local music, including the Shepherd University music department.

Spinning Indie: Are DJs required to play anything in particular? Is there anything they aren't allowed to play?

Todd: Try not to play anything with curse words in it. Everything else goes. From Abba and Disney songs to the latest hip hop tracks. Our automated system plays the eclectic mix we are known for. The DJ's have no regulation on their content.

Production Studio Before Remodel
(image from WSHC website)

Spinning Indie: I can see that you add digital and CD releases. How about vinyl? cassettes? What format of music gets played the most?

Todd: Well there has been a strong movement recently towards digital media, but we still have cart machines, reel to reel and turntables. Vinyl has always been a strong source here at WSHC. One of our shows, called "Vinyl Tap" (airs Mondays between 8-10pm), plays nothing but vinyl. We almost had a show called "Tape Worm" for cassette enthusiasts.

Lindsay Guild, host of "Vinyl Tap" on Monday nights 8-10pm
(Image provided by Todd Cotgreave)

Spinning Indie: What's one of the weirdest records in your library?

Todd: Well we don't have just one weird one. We have always asked small labels, independents, and locals to submit music so.... the better question is... "what is the most normal record?" Which is probably something like "King Missile."

Spinning Indie: What's the longest running show at the station?

Todd: Hard to say, we have many shows that have been running for years. I think it could be the "Old School" show DJ'ed by Direct Connection (Airs Thursday night from 8-10). He plays all sorts of stuff, mostly from the 50's to the 80's and features WV's only weekly surf report.

Spinning Indie: Are there any shows that stand out as being unique to WSHC?

Todd: We have so many unique shows. "Inner Views" hosted by Doug Herrick (Fri 5-6 pm) is a talk show that deals with conspiracy theories and government scandals and once had a man in the station that could levitate objects. Radio really doesn't get any better than in-studio levitation.

Spinning Indie: Are the majority of your DJs students? Do you have community DJs at the station?

Todd: We have a good mix of locals and students, about 60% students.

Spinning Indie: Do you listen to other college radio stations? Which stations do you love?

Todd: We can't really pick any up where we are but 89.7 out of Towson, MD [WTMD] does a great job.

Stick week the Spinning Indie 50 State Tour journeys to Kentucky.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

College Radio Tidbits - Socialite DJ, WRTC's Support of Student Musicians, and Student Government Radio in Texas

A few bits of college radio news:

Socialite College Radio DJ
I guess if you're in the public eye, then you can't just go and do a college radio show without someone making note of it. According to a post on Guest of a Guest, NYC socialite Annabelle Dexter-Jones hosts a show called "the Summit" on the Bard College Radio station WXBC.

Trinity College Radio Station Enhances Webcast and Promotes Student Music
An article in the Trinity Tripod discusses enhancements to the Trinity College radio station WRTC-FM in Hartford, Connecticut. According to the piece, the station has added podcasts, improved their webcast and is working more closely with campus music organizations in order to present work by students.

Texas Station will Host Student Senators in 2009
Starting in Spring 2009, Texas State University station KTSW-FM (San Marcos, Texas) will begin airing a show that will feature Q&A sessions with members of student government. According to an article in the University Star, "The show will address student government meeting topics and relevant issues presented by university students."

Montco Radio Profiled on CMJ Staff Blog

Yesterday the CMJ Staff Blog featured an interview with Aaron Henry, Music Director of Montgomery County Community College station Montco Radio (Blue Bell, Pennsylvania). In the interview, Aaron discusses the challenges of attracting student volunteers, how they've managed to get more exposure on campus for the Internet-only station, and their use of outdoor broadcasts. According to the article:

CMJ: As in internet-only station, how are you received by the campus and student body? How do you get their attention?

Aaron Henry: When I first came to Montgomery County Community College, we were the least respected and one of the least visible student clubs on campus. The station was a bit disorganized and undisciplined. But eventually we started promoting among students through the internet via MySpace and Facebook. Then Student Activities allowed us to broadcast in the cafeteria, which was huge! Now they have plans in the near future to expand our broadcast to the communications building and the bookstore. And this semester we printed t-shirts for more visibility on and off campus.

WBGU Profile on CMJ Staff Blog

CMJ has an ongoing series of "industry profiles" in their magazine and on their Staff Blog. One of the most recent interviews was with a few of the music directors of Bowling Green State University radio station WBGU (one of my former haunts). In the interview, specialty MDs Andrew Balcerzak and Brian Scavo talk about their take on the "RPM/IGE" genre, their philosophy about charting, and some of their guidelines for adding new music to the Ohio station. According to the interview:

CMJ: Explain IGE.

Andrew Balcerzak: IGE is a term which stands for “industrial gothic experimental,” and it was an additional music department which I founded back in 2002. But it had no proper CMJ chart, and most of that stuff really just charted to RPM because it was electronic in nature. Some of the gothic rock stuff… it’s more rock. So I was beholden to the RPM director at the time. And at the time the RPM director was not very interested in really working with us. A few years went by and the two departments were formally merged.

They also discuss their extensive "weekly airplay report."

Andrew: ...Now with Brian on board it’s disgustingly fleshed out. I mean we just sent out our weekly airplay report, and it’s twenty pages long!

CMJ: What kind of response have you got to your report?

AB: Two responses: “Jesus Christ, this is so long, I’m never going to read this all” and “Holy crap, I want to bind this is leather, sit by the fireside and read it…” We’re really big on…what’s the word I’m looking for Brian, responsibility? Fairness? Following the rules?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

College Radio Tidbits - KAOS in HD, Prof-Student Team Show, KCRW's New MD, College Radio Novel, Bye Bye Radio Tower

Just catching up on some college radio news from the past week or so:

Evergreen State Station KAOS Gets Grant to go HD
An article today talks about Evergreen State College's community radio station KAOS and its plans to add HD programming due to a $78,000+ grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Kind of cool, but I wonder if there are any strings attached...

Professor, Student Team Radio Show at KSUU
At Southern Utah University radio station KSUU there's a team radio show about movies hosted by a student and a professor. According to an article this week, quoting show host Angie Smith:

"'A lot of the time, as faculty members, the people that work on campus don't get to do some of the fun things like go on the radio,' she said. 'They don't have as many opportunities to do that, so that was a way for me to give a fun outlet for [Professor Kevin](Stein), because he's always wanted to do radio.'"

KCRW's New MD Jason Bentley Profiled
KCRW's Jason Bentley began his new gig as Music Director this week for the Santa Monica College public radio station. An article in the LA Times profiles Bentley and talks about his lengthy history at the station, which began with him as a phone volunteer in 1988. He's been on the air for 16 years, most recently hosting the night-time show "Metropolis." This week he took over as host for "Morning Becomes Eclectic." According to the piece:

"College radio stints at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Loyola Marymount helped give birth to his appreciation for world music and electronica...While all the cool kids who were DJ-ing wanted to play punk and hip-hop, Bentley was laying down Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour, imitating such KCRW predecessor-role models as Tom Schnabel. By 1992, he was on-air himself."

Reflections on a Torn-Down Radio Tower at Boston University
An old radio tower was recently torn down at Boston University, marking the end of an era according to this blog post.

College Radio Novel
In the course of writing this blog I've run across a few writer blogs where there's been mention of a "work-in-progress" related to college radio. Wouldn't it be fun to see one of these projects happen? This time, blogger Amanda writes about her college radio-themed novel No Radio Nothing in Trunk written back in high school.