Monday, December 8, 2008

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!

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