Tuesday, June 30, 2009

San Francisco Music Directors Talk Shop

Music at KUSF

Today's San Francisco Chronicle features a story, "How Radio Stations Tune in Hit Songs," which includes interviews with Music Directors from three different San Francisco radio stations. They discuss how they determine what music gets added to each station and also offered up their choices for some of the best new bands. I was happy to see that a college radio MD from KUSF was included in the mix.

When asked how songs get on the air at the station, one of KUSF's Music Directors (and one of my favorite DJ's there-DJ Schmeejay!) Howard Ryan said:

"We're a free-form radio station, so a DJ can actually play just about any song that fits into their show-stream and KUSF's aesthetic. That being said, the records we add to rotation are generally ones that aren't getting play elsewhere, have serious artistic integrity or are just fun as hell. I roughly preview at least 25-30 records each week - sometimes my ears hurt at the end of the day."

In contrast to this, the commercial station representatives from Live 105 (MD Aaron Axelsen) and Wild 94.9/Star 101.3 (MD Travis X. Loughran) indicate that what gets added to their stations has more to do with what they perceive listeners want. According to Loughran,

"Listener feedback is what ultimately determines when a record gets on the air and also determines when it's time for a record to come off."

Aaron Axelsen (center) Moderates Panel at Industry Noise in March 2009

Live 105's Axelsen states,

"What gets on the air simply comes down to new music that my program director, Dave Numme, and I feel best represents Live 105 and will resonate and react the most with our listeners. It's a combination of playing new music from the modern rock juggernauts, combined with new releases from passion bands and embracing the best of the new emerging acts."

Yet, what this article doesn't reveal, is that commercial stations are also dealing with pressure from the music industry, mandates from their corporate bosses, and are working with a very small playlist in comparison to college stations. Although Music Directors in commercial radio may have some opportunities to add new music or underground acts, there's very little room in the schedule for this kind of music and it typically gets tested out on a specialty show before being introducted to regular rotation.

To learn more about KUSF's music policies, see my interview with another of their Music Directors, Irwin Swirnoff. Additionally, Aaron Axelsen talked more about Live 105's audience during Noise Pop's Industry Noise conference this year. During a panel there he admitted that he's programming for a mass audience, so it can be tricky introducing new artists.

P.S. After writing this I ran across Brad Kava's SF Radio Examiner post about Live 105's new experiment with a company called Jelli. Starting this past Sunday, those who tune in to the station on Sunday nights from 10 to Midnight will apparently be hearing "100% Listener-Controlled Radio." Hmmm. Kava applauds the effort, but is skeptical, arguing that college radio is really where it's at. He says,

"When you have people voting for music they like you get American Idol, not interesting new music tentacles.

If you want radio that really reflects a community, check out college stations such as KALX and KSJS, where the DJs actually talk to listeners old school style on the phone and play requests."

I totally agree....plus based on what I saw of Jelli, the voting is taking place amongst the already narrow playlists of Live 105. You can vote to hear more Minutemen, Melvins, Throwing Muses, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, and Pixies (go do it!) and less Nine Inch Nails, Ace of Base and Concrete Blonde, but I doubt they'll be offering up the range that you'd get on college radio.

College Radio Tidbits: Oklahoma Rock History on KOSU, WKDI Memories and Illinois Radio Tower Demolition

Music at WVFI in September 2008

KOSU to Air History of Rock in Oklahoma
This is a great example of non-commercial radio sticking to its roots in local programming. A public radio station in Oklahoma, KOSU, will be airing 6 episodes of Steve Ripley's retrospective on "Oklahoma Rock 'n Roll" on Friday nights this summer. According to an article in Tulsa World:

"The show is a 20-part radio series produced in conjunction with a major new museum exhibition at the Oklahoma History Center, 'Another Hot Oklahoma Night: A Rock and Roll Exhibit.'"

Northern Illinois University Radio Tower Demolition and WKDI Memories
An article in The Northern Star discusses the planned demolition of a Northern Illinois University building (former home of campus radio stations WKDI and WNIU) and radio tower. According to the piece:

"Kishwaukee Hall and the radio tower will likely be removed before the end of the summer...

Built in 1940, Kishwaukee Hall was used as a coffee shop, the student union, and offices for the Northern Star and the two university radio stations, WKDI and WNIU, according to the NIU Regional History Center records. Most operations left the building in 1990.

Two conditions audits in 1989 and 1990 determined the building would be too expensive to renovate to code conformation, according to the condition audits performed by university architect Roland Screiber."

As far as I can tell the radio stations moved out of the building many years ago and the transmitter is most likely non-operational. One station is public radio, and the student station WKDI seems to no longer exist. However, I did just find some random recollections circa 1989 on the Colicky Baby Records and Tapes blog:

"I was DJing a radio show at WKDI from 6 to 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings that semester. Probably the graveyardiest of graveyard shifts. The drunks were all asleep by then, and nobody with any sense was awake yet. I think I had approximately zero listeners.

Naturally, I let that allow me to do whatever the hell I wanted, from mixing Charles Manson folk songs with field recordings of the Jim Jones massacre to G.G. Allin played at 45 rpm mixed with John F. Kennedy speeches to rambling at length about whatever I felt that morning. More people, I am certain, have listened to my own cassette recordings, as captive audiences in my own apartments, of those shows than anyone ever did on their radios.

During my WKDI show for Sunday April 16, a certain No Eraser Head dropped by the Kishwaukee Hall studio for a visit. He later admitted to me that he was under the influence of LSD, but I didn't notice any difference from his usual self."

Classic college radio memories, for sure. So, what happened to WKDI???

Monday, June 29, 2009

Make Your Own Radio Station

Make Magazine has a cool article this week, "Make Your Own Radio Programming," which rhapsodizes about the good old days of college radio and provides tools for those who want to craft their own station. Author Chris Connors was struck by the recent Boston Globe piece (that I discussed on Radio Survivor in my article "Corporate Radio Gets a Little More Life after Michael Jackson's Death"), which described how live radio was sort of resurrected the day that Michael Jackson died. He writes:

"Back in the day, I recall listening to the radio knowing something unique was happening. The radio announcers had their own tastes in music, and they helped to create a following around their musical tastes. Sometimes there was dead air as the dj missed the cue for a variety of human reasons, some more innocent than others. This caused me to volunteer at and work at several radio stations in the 1980's and 1990's. I actually chose my university because I liked the on air feel of the campus radio station, which turned out to be a very influential organization for me. At the station, I did on-air work, production of public service announcements, newscasts, dj training, and eventually became Program Director. The audience's active listenership of the music and programming was exciting to be involved with.

Back then, radio was a public service to be provided to the community, not just a marketing opportunity. Almost radio programming was done with people at the microphones, nearly always they were playing actual records, tapes or cds. Even the commercials were created in-house, except those for national campaigns.

Do you miss real radio? There are a bunch of college radio stations around, and most of them depend on the student body and sometimes local community members to create their programming. With web streaming, it is possible to listen way beyond the broadcast range of your favorite station. WERS in Boston plays a good mix curated by communications students. KEXP in Seattle has a wonderful mix of live performances and genuine djs choosing the music they play..."

Yes! Real radio still exists on the left of the dial at college radio stations. While it sounds like a fun project to make one's own station (see the article for more details), I think it's still really important to support the struggling stations that are still out there. Turn on your terrestrial radio and explore, grab some program guides to find shows that pique your interest, and make some time to listen to curated sounds. The future of radio depends on it.

College Radio Tidbits: Onion's College Radio DJ Profile, Florida College Radio Tops Lists, KSJS College Radio Memories

A few college radio tidbits to share:

Miami Column Tracks College Radio Top 10
A new column in the Miami New Times Crossfade blog called "Dialed In" is chronicling top 10 lists from college radio stations in the South Florida area, including WVUM ("the Voice" at University of Miami), WNSU ("Radio X" at Nova Southeastern University), and WRGP ("Radiate" at Florida International University).

KSJS Radio Memories from the 1980s
I just ran across an a letter to the editor from 2007 in the San Jose Mercury that provides some nice reminiscences from DJs who were at San Jose State's college radio station KSJS in the 1980s.

"During the 1980-1985 years, a bunch of SJSU misfits came together to work at the college radio station, KSJS.

For many of us, we were shy and hadn't felt like we belonged anywhere else. After four years, we became the best of friends and many marriages even emerged from those bonds. Who knew that from that first time we flirted at the KSJS recording studio, my husband and I would now be celebrating our 20-year anniversary. Back then we were late night on-air DJ's (Dede K and Mark Anthony). Today, my husband, who was the more talented one, is currently the news/traffic reporter at KFRC.

Our group of 16 KSJS friends calls ourselves the 'Brew Crew.' (Mainly for the amount of alcohol we consumed at the time.) We have amazing stories to tell - like the times we finagled our way into the SJSU television studios from 2-5 a.m. and made bootleg MTV music videos and our annual SuperBowl Brew Crew parties.

Dede and Mark Nieto, Walnut Creek"

"College Radio DJ Thinks He Has Cult Following" (the Onion)
Oh my goodness, this satirical piece in the Onion poking fun of an influential college radio DJ takes me back to around 2001 when they did a similar profile of "Record Store Girl," a hipster who made all the college radio boys swoon. In their profile of DJ Jordan Haley (supposedly of WEIU at Eastern Illinois University):

"'I'm always mixing it up,' Haley said...'I challenge my audience, and that's why people respond to my show. My success should prove to other radio stations that people don't want to be spoon-fed their music.'

Though 'Rock Blossom' is heard mainly by his girlfriend and a handful of friends who request songs while they get stoned, Haley said his show is distinctive because of his personality...

Another quality that sets Haley apart is his encyclopedic knowledge of underground music.

'A lot of DJs think that if they know Rocket From The Crypt or Burning Airlines, they're up on the alt-rock scene–whatever that is,' Haley said. 'I was the one who introduced Black Dice, The Mink Lungs, and The (International) Noise Conspiracy to the people of the Charleston metro area, so it's understandable why my show would be bigger than [fellow WEIU DJ] Eric [Poppel]'s.'"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Farewell to Michael Jackson

San Francisco Chronicle Coverage of Michael Jackson's Death
from Today's Paper

Like many people, I'm still reeling from Michael Jackson's death on Thursday. I found out on email and immediately jumped on to Facebook to share my shock and get some consolation from friends. Status updates became message boards, full of conversation about various reactions to Michael Jackson's death. The same thing happened on blogs and Twitter. And people quickly drafted posts to chime in with their reactions (myself included).

It was fascinating to see people learning of the news via Facebook and hearing their immediate responses. Many, like me, were sad and shocked and immediately called upon personal memories of Michael Jackson's music. Every time I hear "Rock with You," I can't avoid thinking about junior high school years, roller skating parties, and school dances. I would imagine that people of my generation in particular have strong associations with the music (discussed nicely in this piece in the Miami Herald), as it was ubiquitous in the early 1980s and grew in popularity along with the rise of music videos and MTV.

Yet, at the same time, even in the minutes following the announcement of his death, I heard commentary from detractors who were quick to discount Jackson's influence (it's just good producers and choreographers) and felt that his misdeeds overshadowed his music. This line of commentary is what's been gnawing at me since I first heard of his death. Although I'm very disturbed by the child abuse allegations against Jackson and continue to be alarmed by some of his questionable parenting choices (dangling a baby off a balcony); there's no way for me to separate Michael Jackson's music from my youth.

Jackson 5 on American Bandstand

So, yes, I am sad. And, I did immediately want to turn on the TV to watch video after video so that I could reminiscence about a period in his career when he was at his peak and when I was still a kid and teen. Thank goodness for MTV and especially BET for its hours and hours of non-stop Michael Jackson videos on Thursday and Friday (and today FUSE is doing the same). He was so defined by his videos, so it was awesome to see iconic videos like "Beat It," "Thriller," and "Black or White" on channels that don't often play videos anymore.

Particularly heart-breaking to see were the pre-video performances from the Jackson 5. My 3-year-old daughter was rivetted by his singing and dance moves and was particularly charmed when the Jackson 5's very first American Bandstand appearance hit the screen on MTV. That's the real tragedy, seeing Michael as a cute talented little kid and knowing how his life ultimately turned out.

But, even as that example shows, one of the best ways to deal with death is by cherishing positive memories of the departed. So everyone embraced the music. It was cool to see some of my local record shops getting TV coverage, as customers flocked in to pick up Michael Jackson CDs and records.

ABC Shows DJ Playing Michael Jackson

And, as I had hoped, radio responded as well. A DJ at my station did a Michael Jackson themed show Thursday night (even playing some Weird Al), KCRW quickly assembled a tribute page on their website and aired special programming, and Sirius XM radio had a number of tributes across various channels (including one hosted by former MTV VJ Nina Blackwood on the 1980s channel) and it's devoting an entire channel to a Michael Jackson tribute today through June 29th on Heart & Soul (Sirius 51 and XM 62). As Tom Taylor of Radio-Info pointed out in his newsletter, "...Michael Jackson and radio made a lot of very good times and very good business together." The Radio-Info website has a bunch of stats to back that up, including reports on the increased Michael Jackson airplay on radio following his death.

Michael Jackson's Death Came Too Late for Streetlight's San Francisco Store on 24th Street
(but their San Jose branch was all over the news)

ABC World News Tonight showed clips of radio stations around the globe playing Michael Jackson songs and I found reports about special programming in Colorado (community station KAFM), North Carolina, and Boston in addition to a number of interesting tributes on college radio stations like WRMC, WICB and WUOG (just a sampling!).

Ben Fong-Torres has a really nice front page story about Michael Jackson in the San Francisco Chronicle today, outlining both his influence on music and his complicated persona. Ben's been in an interesting position the past few days, as he's been fielding non-stop calls from the media, asking for his commentary about the King of Pop. Ben interviewed a teen-aged Jackson, so it's got to be sad and surreal for him how things played out for Michael.

It's also bittersweet to think that a tragic death of a music superstar can potentially be so lucrative for the music industry. But, hey, I'm pleased that it may cause more people to buy physical music, patronize record shops, and turn the radio back on again. It makes us all remember just how powerful music can be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CMJ Profiles WMUH and Dust-to-Digital Owner with College Radio Past

Somehow I managed to skip one of CMJ's College Radio Profiles (their ongoing series of interviews with staff from college radio stations all over the country). So, several months late, I'm here to tell you that in March, CMJ did an interview with the Music Director of WMUH (Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA) and chatted about the station's 60th anniversary, unique fundraising efforts (they did a haircut-a-thon), and the attention they've received from being ranked in the Princeton Review's top college radio station list (according to their website, this was back in 2000).

Here's an excerpt from the interview with WMUH Music Director Caroline Shadood:

CMJ: WMUH turned 60 last year. Happy late anniversary! Can you tell us a little bit about the station?

Caroline: Thanks! The station is split 50/50 between community and student DJs, making the programming fantastically diverse. We broadcast primarily rock and indie rock, as well as jazz, blues, metal, punk/ska, electronic and world music. Right now we chart Radio 200 and Loud Rock at CMJ, but there has been an increasing demand for Hip-Hop and RPM at the station...

And, by the way, the most recent "industry profile" on the CMJ blog is of super cool indie record label Dust-to-Digital. They reissue all kinds of amazing vintage material, some of it originally on cylinder recordings and 78s. According to their website: "Dust-to-Digital's mission is to produce high-quality, cultural artifacts, which combine rare, essential recordings with historic images and detailed texts describing the artists and their works."

In the interview, label owner Lance Ledbetter talks about his college radio past at Georgia State's college radio station WRAS:

CMJ: You used to DJ on WRAS. How did that help you get started with Dust-To-Digital?

Lance: I view college radio as a great opportunity to learn about music—it just happens to be in front of a live, listening audience. My fondest memories of being a DJ include digging in the record library late at night when I would have the station to myself, doing Sunday afternoon free-forms on artists I enjoyed and interviewing artists coming through town for my show.

College Radio Tidbits: Performance Rights Act, KACC DJ Profile, WUVT to Get Bigger Signal

A few college radio-related items to report on today:

College Radio Stations Could Shut Down, Switch to Talk if Bill Passes
As I wrote on Radio Survivor today, opposition to the Performance Rights Act continues. In a recent bit of press on WKOWTV.com, WSUM (University of Wisconsin-Madison) General Manager Dave Black expresses his concern for non-commercial broadcasters. According to the article, "Black says many college stations in Wisconsin could close if Congress imposes the fees on them."

Profile of Houston DJ team at College Radio Station KACC
A Houston Press article, "Think Houston Radio Sucks? Try KACC's Lost Fidelity," profiles a college radio DJ team on at the Alvin Community College FM station KACC (89.7 FM). The article describes the show as "a three-hour garage and indie-rock powerhouse chock full of nerdy music talk..."

Virginia Tech Station WUVT Gets More Attention, Bigger Signal
There's a nice article in the Roanoake Times profiling Virginia Tech station WUVT's chief engineer Kevin Sterne, and his hard work for the station over the years.

Interestingly, Kevin brought more attention to the station after he was injured in the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. According to the article, "A photo of Sterne being carried out of Norris Hall after he was shot twice in the right leg in German class became the iconic image of the tragedy."

The article also explains that "Steve Davis, senior vice president of engineering at Clear Channel Radio orchestrated several gifts of time and equipment that got WUVT's signal back to 3,000 watts in May 2007 and cleared the way for new equipment and location that will bring it to 6,500 watts"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NPR Show Unearths 1971 College Radio Show from WHUS

Are you an obsessive radio listener? Do you have boxes of aircheck tapes from your radio show or from shows that you have just recorded off of the radio? Well...there are lots of people out there like you. Online forums exist just to facilitate the swapping of old airchecks and there are countless "radio nostalgia"-type blogs out there. But how do these "finds" become relevant and interesting beyond this inner circle?

Well, Connecticut Public Radio Station WNPR is doing a neat project called the Connecticut Basement Tapes Project, where they are digging up audio artifacts that illustrate pieces of Connecticut history. One of the most recent finds is a college radio show from WHUS circa 1971.

WNPR then put together a piece about this tape from 1971. They even tracked down the student DJ (Les Morrell) and interviewed him to learn more about his history of music show called "Ancient Archives" and find out more about the specific tape that was found. From the WNPR website you can listen to the piece about "Ancient Archives," including audio clips from the 1971 tape. Here's a transcript of a portion of the show:

"Morell would go on to be the station manager at WHUS, but I asked him how he got started at the station back in the late 1960’s.

'I used to hang out in the studio with Sexy Rex Faithful...Isn't that a radio name? And I said, "This is great, how do I do this, how do I get involved?" Eventually, Sexy Rexy graduated from UConn and they had to find someone to fill the position. So I took over the show. What I brought to the ancient archives show was more history about the music than just playing the songs alone. I was fascinated by the background, the singers, where they came from, how the songs came about.'"

Do you have any audio gems like this? Does your station ever unearth old airchecks and re-play them? Seems like a pretty great way to cherish some radio history.

Radio Survivor Launches

Obviously I'm pretty passionate about radio and it's always fun to meet like-minded folks who share my mission to spread the gospel about radio's continued relevance.

So, it's awesome to announce that I'm helping to launch a new website called Radio Survivor. I've joined up with radio gurus Matthew Lasar (an academic and contributor to Ars Technica who writes extensively about radio, the FCC and policy issues and has authored several books and articles about Pacifica Radio) and Paul Riismandel (champion of indie media, adviser to Northwestern University radio station WNUR and the man behind the "Mediageek" blog and radio show).

Radio Survivor will report on the past, present and future of radio; with a bit of a broader perspective than Spinning Indie. Since this is a new endeavor, it might take awhile to figure out which posts are more "Spinning Indie" and which are more "Radio Survivor," so I'll do my best to provide links when appropriate.

My first two posts for Radio Survivor were college radio-related:

Is Twitter the New College Radio?
College Radio DJ Archetypes

Additionally, Paul and Matthew have written up some interesting posts related to satellite radio, policy issues, and the mysterious presence of TV audio on the FM band after the analog to digital conversion Here are a couple:

Analog TV is Alive. It's Radio
The Holy Grail: Getting Internet Radio into Your Car (Part 1)

Monday, June 22, 2009

College Radio Tidbits: WKNC gets Kudos and Public Radio Host's College Radio Roots

Sharing a few college radio-related stories:

North Carolina State Station Gets Nod from Local Reader Survey
College radio station WKNC (North Carolina State) was one of the finalists in a recent "best radio station" survey in a local paper. According to the article on MyNC.com:

"WKNC 88.1 FM, N.C. State University's student-run radio station, was a runner-up for Best Radio Station in the Triangle, as voted by the readers of Independent Weekly. WKNC received this award after carrying Best Station in the Triangle from 2006 to 2008. This year the award for Best Radio Station in the Triangle went to WUNC 91.5 FM, an NPR-affiliate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

Board at KZSC

America's Radio Sweetheart's College Radio Roots
In a profile of Jesse Thorn (aka America's Radio Sweetheart) on the Daily Cross Hatch, Brian Heater talks about the public radio star's indie radio roots. Jesse's syndicated public radio show The Sound of Young America actually began in college radio at UC Santa Cruz station KZSC (check out this article in Metroactive about those early years).

Brian writes:

"Even back then it was clear that TSOYA possessed something other shows didn’t—namely Jesse Thorn, a smooth talking an engaging personality with the sort of polish generally lacking from the crap shoot that is college radio, god bless it. Thorn always knew the right people to interview, and he always knew just how to interview them...

The Sound of Young America has continued to live on, outgrowing its college radio roots, and is now syndicated on 25 terrestrial radio stations (via PRI) and XM. Thorn himself is something of a relic of a largely bygone era—a handful of radio show hosts that recall a time when the radio was a vibrant media..."

Elvis Costello's Two Record Stores in One Day Tour

Elvis Costello Playing Amoeba in San Francisco
(and being fully documented on video, camera phones, etc.)

A few hours ago I caught a live performance by Elvis Costello at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. It's a huge record store (the building used to be a bowling alley) and it was jam-packed with fans who were eager to catch one of Elvis's two free Amoeba shows today. After the show and "meet and greet" (they handed out 81 numbers to people who wanted to have items signed and it was a free for all after that) he will be jetting down south to play at the Los Angeles Amoeba store at 8pm. Along with being able to see an amazing set by a music legend, fans were also able to pick up limited edition posters commemorating the Amoeba shows (free with purchase of the new album Secret, Profane & Sugarcane).

As my friends and I looked out at the sea of faces in the store today (at 12 noon on a Monday), we talked about the beauty of in-store performances. It was great publicity for Elvis Costello's new record and a fantastic way to get music fans into a record store and spending money on physical music.

Additionally, tonight's show is going to stream live at 8pm and both sets will end up being archived on the Amoeba website. So, even if you missed it, you can catch full documentation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

College Radio Bounty in Suburban Chicago

I always enjoy reading articles about the college radio scene in different parts of the country. The latest piece "College Radio Stations are Holding Their Own as World Turns Digital," ran in The Daily Herald and is a nice guide to college radio in the Chicago suburbs. It's perfect timing for me, too, as I may be heading to Chicago this summer and need to find a station to visit.

According to the article:

"Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, college stations were the key force that introduced bands like R.E.M., The Replacements and Husker Du to wider audiences and major record labels. Today, music blogs and Web sites like MySpace perform a similar function.

But those who run funky college stations on the left side of the dial say their brand of radio is far from obsolete.

'There will always be a need for us,' said [WONC station manager John] Madormo, who has worked at WONC since 1980, when DJs actually did spin vinyl records instead of clicking digital music files. 'There are other outlets out there these days, of course. But I think music fans recognize that MySpace pages and things like that are self-serving. The passionate fans want an arbiter, something that judges what's really good and deserves to be heard. That's where radio comes in.'"

Turntable at WNUR

You've got to take a look at the article to see the accompanying college radio map, which pinpoints the location for each of the six FM stations profiled. Here's a complete list of the college radio stations cited in the piece, which also includes three Internet-only stations:

WETN 88.1 FM (Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL)
Primarily Christian music, also some classical music, campus lectures, sports, and Christmas music during the holidays.

WHCM 88.3 FM (Harper College, Palatine, IL)
This FM-only station used to be available only on campus and still airs only during the school year. Here's a picture of their tower.

WLUW 88.7 FM (Loyola University, Chicago, IL)
The future of this station's programming is a bit unclear after some changes that took place last year, in which community DJs lost shows and the station was said to be transitioning to a student-only station.

An article in student paper The Phoenix in January 2009 said, "Last spring a WLUW task force decided, among other things, that the station needed to create more opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience in radio broadcasting...Plans for the station, which was handled by Chicago Public Radio for the last half-decade, have yet to be set in stone, but its future remains open to possibilities."

WONC 89.1 FM (North Central College, Naperville, IL)
According to the article, "North Central's WONC mixes songs from up-and-coming groups like Art Brut and Blue October with tunes from top-selling acts like Pearl Jam and Oasis. The station also broadcasts the weekly "Local Chaos" show, which spotlights bands from Chicago and the suburbs."

WNUR 89.3 FM (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL)
Great station with a wide range of music, news, and public affairs shows. I visited in November 2008, so take a look at my piece for the inside scoop and lots of photos of the station.

WDCB 90.9 FM (College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL)
Public radio station that mainly plays jazz.

WRBC "The Blaze" (Internet-only, Roosevelt University)

SpartanCast (Internet-only, Aurora University)

CLC Radio (Internet-only, College of Lake County)

Boombox at WNUR

As sort of a companion piece, take a look at a similar article about college radio stations from 2008. When I was driving near Chicago in September, I also ran across a few others:

WRRG 88.9 FM (Triton College, River Grove, IL)
They were playing some real oldies when I tuned in, including Judy Garland and Woody Guthrie. And here's a really random link to a picture of their radio tower.

WIIT 88.9 FM (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL)
I'm not sure if I heard them or not, but learned about the station when trying to figure out the source of the sounds that I was hearing on 88.9FM (the same frequency at WRRG).

And, there's also an interesting collection of pictures of college radio (and commercial radio) towers in Chicago on Garrett Wollman's website. He's been capturing images of radio towers all over the country for years. In some cases he's even toured transmitter sites, getting an inside view of the inner workings of radio transmission.

In 2004 he obsessively photographed radio towers and recorded airchecks from a bunch of Chicago stations. Kind of similar to my college radio field trips. He writes, "I somehow got it into my head that it would be interesting to see (and aircheck) all of the little Chicagoland non-comms. When airfares dipped to $150 round-trip, I found the temptation irresistable, and decided to go to Chicago on Columbus Day weekend." Neat!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is College Radio Anti Pop?

1980s College Radio Mainstay in WVFI Library in 2008

I just wrote up a piece for the new blog Radio Survivor called "Is Twitter the New College Radio?" about the role of college radio in breaking news and if Twitter has in fact taken over the role of news-breaking machine in 2009.

In my article I quoted from a recent interview with college radio mainstay, David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven), about his perceptions of college radio. Here's a bit from his interview in Glide where he discusses social networking today and how it compares to the 1980s:

"Glide: I see you’re on Facebook and fans can follow you guys on Twitter. Quite different from the 80’s…or is it?

David Lowery: Well, exactly. It’s different from the ‘80’s in that it’s much easier to maintain a grass roots following now. But we basically tried all of this networking back then, just in a different way. We collected people’s addresses, we had mailing lists, we had a newsletter. We went around to the college radio stations, which to us back in the early’80’s was our underground blog. We would play on the college stations and then do a show in the college towns and there was this belief that we would associate ourselves with like-minded people, which is a lot like the social networking tools of today."

Renderers Play Pop and Noisy Sounds at KFJC
March 2009

I love this idea that college radio in the 1980s was like an "underground blog" of its day. And I do believe that there is something magical about college radio communities, particularly in small towns. As the interview continues, Lowery makes the argument that college radio was "egalitarian" back in the day, "playing pop music of our generation" and that today it's "more elitist." As stated in the piece:

"Glide: There was something about the popularity of the college radio station back in the 80’s that made music so special. Students today have no idea what that was like…

David Lowery: I’ll tell you what it was. College radio in the ‘80’s was very egalitarian…it was about playing pop music for our generation. I think it’s more elitist now. Like, 'Hey we’re going to play this stuff now that isn’t pop' or something like that. Whereas before, it was our own conception of pop music. I was a college radio DJ through much of the early ‘80’s, so I remember what it was like.

Glide: Where did you DJ?

David Lowery: I started DJ-ing in 1978 at a station called KUOR in Redlands, California. I was actually in high school and I went to their orientation meeting and never said that I was a student and I got my own show (laughs)."

I started DJing in college radio in the 1980s, so I'm fully aware of the nostalgia for this era as well. But, at the same time, I've been involved with college radio pretty much ever since and continue to find the scene to be exciting and groundbreaking. It is true that I play a lot less pop than I used to and have moved on to more obscure sounds, but I'm not sure if that makes what I'm doing less egalitarian. True, there can be a bias against pop at some stations (certainly mine), but that has actually opened my ears to new sounds that I love.

If you take a look at college radio charts overall, it's clear that the anti-pop stations are in the minority and that many are embracing "pop" music for a new generation of listeners. College radio stations devoted to underground sounds regularly bemoan the more mainstream playlists of other college stations, just as pop-oriented stations might critique their peers who are playing lots of noise and experimental music. That's the beauty of college radio, there's usually a little bit of something for everyone.

What do you think? Is your station biased against pop music? Do you feel like college radio was better in the 1980s?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

College Radio Rule Breaker Gets Arrested

Word to the wise. If you take it upon yourself to break the rules at your college radio station by playing explicit music, then be ready to face the consequences.

According to an article in the Dayton Daily News, A DJ at Wright State's WWSU-FM (Dayton, Ohio) was fired yesterday for playing unedited music and then was promptly arrested by campus police for outstanding warrants. Apparently the station's management was concerned about the firing, so had campus police on hand. Upon further investigation the police learned of the warrants, so hauled the guy off to jail for charges relating to "corrupt activity" and bad checks. Crazy.

Have you ever called in campus police when firing a DJ?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Radio Station Field Trip 16 - Haverford College Station WHRC

Old WHRC Sticker

A few weeks ago I visited my old college radio station, WHRC at Haverford College, during Alumni Weekend. A small group of us (two folks from class of 1984 and four of us from class of 1989) who were DJs in the 1980s met up on May 30th at the station with current staff member David Wicks (class of 2011) to learn a bit about the current state of WHRC.

Entrance to WHRC

Sadly, WHRC hasn't really been operational as a radio station for about a year, after suffering a devastating hacker attack on their website. Just prior to that they had been broadcasting as an Internet-only station since about 1999. In the years leading up to 1999 the station had its ups and downs, yet once played a very prominent role on campus since its beginnings in the 1920s.

One of the main problems, as many students and alumni have pointed out, has been the lack of a consistent station staff or "institutional memory" over the years. Haverford College is a small school near Philadelphia, so another hurdle has been getting enough people to volunteer at the station. Additionally, the campus empties out over the summer, so broadcasts have been limited to the school year and then must be revived by a new batch of students every fall.

WHRC Entrance in Dining Center Basement

In this post I'll be recapping my 2009 visit to WHRC and will talk about their plans for the future. But, this is part of a much bigger project in which I'm working to piece together a complete history of the station.

I've been collecting stories and artifacts from WHRC alum (including a staff member from the 1940s), culling through old yearbooks, and spent an entire day in the Haverford College library sifting through old WHRC archival material. It's a fascinating history of a station once rumored to be the first college radio station on the East Coast.

Board in WHRC hallway outside studios

Along the way there were intercontinental chess matches, the first college radio network, a powerful AM signal, ambitious live remotes and sports broadcasts, controversies over DJs playing a certain Violent Femmes song in the 1980s, 100 person DJ staffs, a push for FM, and debate over dining center speakers at Bryn Mawr College. Stay tuned for more stories about all of that. And, if you were ever part of WHRC, please get in touch to share your stories with me as well.

David Wicks (with arms outstretched) Tours WHRC Alums around the Station

WHRC in 2009

Thanks so much to WHRC Board Members David Wicks and Jacob Waters for chatting with me about the current state of the station. David was kind enough to open up the WHRC studios during summer break so that alumni could check out the space and reminisce. And Jacob gave me some perspective on the recent history of the station in an email interview with me.

Dining Center Basement Directory
(possible not up to date)

WHRC is currently located in the basement of the dining center at Haverford College. It's been there since 1974, when it was moved from another building (Union), which was being converted into a music building. When I was a student at Haverford (1985-1989), the basement of the dining center functioned like a student union. The basement contained all student mailboxes, a game room, snack bar, a lounge area, the bookstore, and other student activities in addition to WHRC.

Room next door to WHRC
(Sign on Door Says "Computer Services")

Today, the basement of the dining center at Haverford is like a ghost town. A prominent interior staircase that led from the upstairs eating areas to the basement has been removed, meaning that students must enter the basement from outside the building. All "student union"-like features have been moved to a newish (built in the last 10 years) Campus Center on the opposite side of campus.

Main Studio at WHRC (Studio B)

David addressed the drawbacks of the station's location, saying, "the space has been hindering us...because it's so tucked out of the way." He added that he thinks that it's much harder to "be creative" when DJs are "stuck down here."

Studio B at WHRC

It's funny, because at the time I felt a bit defensive about these comments, because the station has been in the same spot for decades and it's always been off the beaten path (like many other stations that I've visited). But, later I realized that the station has in fact become more and more isolated in the years since the Campus Center was built. Although it's near the hub of the dining center, it doesn't get foot traffic like it used to when it was just down the hall from student mailboxes and the bookstore.

Board in Studio B at WHRC

WHRC went off the air in Spring 2008 after the station's website was hacked. As I toured around the station a year later, it looked to me as if not much had changed in that time. It was sort of Pompeii-like, as if things hadn't been touched in a long time. David pointed out that some of the new CDs from back then were still in the "new" rack. Old program guides were strewn about, along with long-forgotten music magazines. One of the WHRC alums noticed the lack of turntables and we were told that they had been damaged during a youth summer camp one year and were thrown out.

View into Studio A from Studio B at WHRC

As you enter the station space there are metal shelves housing bits and pieces of WHRC's past, including an old "board" that I remember using in the 1980s, as well as a small section of old, disorganized, and damaged vinyl. Their CD collection, as well as some newer pieces of vinyl are located in a large room that used to be the WHRC office in my day.

Me, in front of graveyard of old vinyl and old WHRC equipment in WHRC Entryway

Additionally, I was pleased to see some wall space devoted to WHRC's history. There were even some of my 1980s photos posted on the wall that I'd brought with me when I visited in 2004.

WHRC Entryway Display of Archival Photos
(me in the studio and record library in 1987)

According to David and Jacob, WHRC will no longer operate as a traditional radio station. Instead, they've begun transitioning into more of a live DJ club, focusing on music events on campus. A former staff member described this to me as akin to "spontaneous public mix tapes." Additionally, the website will serve as a hub for all things music on campus. Bands can get promotion for upcoming shows and members of the campus community will be invited to submit podcasts.

CD Library in WHRC Office

The physical station and its record library's future is uncertain. A former staff member told me, "people don't really use CDs anymore" and Jacob talked about plans to digitize all the CDs. Additionally, the vinyl collection has been dwindling over the years, due to damage and a major sell-off of material some time prior to 2004.

Old WHRC T-shirt

To get a better sense of the station's future plans, I conducted an email interview with WHRC board member Jacob Waters:

Spinning Indie: What years have you been involved with WHRC?

Jacob Waters: I had a radio show starting my first semester as a freshman at Haverford (Fall 2006) and began attending board meetings. Second semester I was named Assistant Music Director, and then assumed the full Music Director role my sophomore year. Since then I’ve worked extensively with a number of students, particularly Duncan Cooper ’09, to reform the station and hopefully make an impact on campus. I’m excited to start up again this fall (my senior year).

Sign on Wall of Studio B

Spinning Indie: What drew you to the station?

Jacob Waters: I’m a huge music fan and had always wanted the opportunity to have a show and create something that people would enjoy. Also, my father was involved in radio for a long time (as a DJ and program director) and I was curious to see what it was like. Unfortunately I don’t quite have his 'radio voice.'

Studio B Bulletin Board

Spinning Indie: If you had a radio show, what was its theme and if it was a music show, what kind of music did you play?

Jacob Waters: I’ve had two shows, each of which lasted for a year. The first was mostly indie rock and the second was 60s-70s soul.

New Music Rack in Studio B

Spinning Indie: How has the Dining Center (DC) basement studio and record library been used since you've been at WHRC?

Jacob Waters: When I first arrived we used the studio for pretty much everything station-related, including broadcasting, board meetings, and training sessions. Starting Fall 2008 it has been used sparingly.

Sign on Wall of Studio B

Spinning Indie: How would you describe WHRC’s presence on campus? Do people know about it? Did people listen when it was online? Where could you hear the station?

Jacob Waters: Frankly, WHRC has little or no presence on campus. Except for the DJs and their close friends who listened to their shows (and those friends rarely listened to other shows) I saw little evidence of impact. Part of my job as music director was to look at listenership statistics, and we averaged around 2-3 listeners at any given time. Numbers that low made it quite clear that change was necessary. The fact that we were Internet-only seemed to give us potential—students basically live on their computers anyway—but still our impact was minimal.

Sign on Wall of Studio B

Spinning Indie: Any interesting tales from when you were at WHRC? Any scandals?

Jacob Waters: The most frustrating part of working at WHRC was easily the lack of institutional memory, particularly tech issues. Past students hashed the station together with custom computer code and strange sound setups and graduated without documenting what they had done. To put it simply, when things broke no one knew how to fix them, which made it quite difficult to keep the station running smoothly.

Computers in Studio A

Spinning Indie: What’s one of the strangest things that happened at WHRC?

Jacob Waters: The only strange things I can think of are negative, haha. I suppose the hacking that took place spring 2008 would top my list. There we were, a little station with virtually no listenership used by some hackers to attack servers at Stanford (I think it was Stanford). When I heard about it I could hardly believe it, just because it was so unexpected.

Spinning Indie: Are you aware of the history of radio at Haverford?

Jacob Waters: Some. I know that the station used to actually be on the radio, and I believe at some point Haverford had one of the strongest radio transmitters in the country. But again, the lack of institutional memory has severed the history to some extent.

Old Vinyl and Equipment in WHRC Entryway

Spinning Indie: Did WHRC ever get back on the air in 2009? In what capacity?

Jacob Waters: Just to be clear, we are no longer “on the air” really—we are transitioning to public live shows and podcasts. And yes, several shows were held near the end of last semester. We intended last semester to be a test run for this coming year, and things seem to be working out.

Old Vinyl at WHRC

Spinning Indie: What are the plans for the station for fall 2009? What will be broadcast and how will it be broadcast?

Jacob Waters: "Radio station" in the traditional sense is now a misnomer for WHRC. There is no live stream that people can listen to from their own rooms or homes. Instead, WHRC will have three main components.

Photo on Wall of WHRC of DJ Gig in Sunken Lounge of Dining Center

First, there will be approximately 10 semi-weekly live shows that will be done in public places (the Campus Center, DC, or anywhere else). These shows will be played and recorded on laptops belonging to the station, and the recordings will be exported as podcasts to put on our website. WHRC will heavily promote these shows, hopefully creating real DJ personalities who will be known around campus.

People will know that "Person X's Oldies Hour" will be broadcast in the Coop on Tuesdays at 8:00, know that the show will be good quality, and hopefully go see the show live or at least listen to the podcast. As opposed to the old WHRC format where it was an unorganized mass of music shows—shows that had very inconsistent quality—students will know what they’re getting and know that the shows are worth listening to.

Haverford College During Alumni Weekend 2009

Second, all students (or faculty or staff, for that matter) will be encouraged to submit their own podcasts to the site. Again, these will be polished programs that will be easily accessible and hopefully high-quality. This creates an instant campus impact: in a way, every person in the Haverford community is part of the station. If you want to put a podcast together, you just go ahead and do it. The site will also include directions for how to make a podcast if you don’t know how.

Third, the site will have an important role on its own. It will serve as the Internet center of music on campus, where bands coming to campus can be promoted and discussed; student bands can post their own music and promote their shows; and people could discuss music they like and make recommendations. If people are interested in music on campus, we want WHRC’s website to be the first place they turn.

Lounge/Live Music Space at WHRC
(This was the Record Library in the 1980s)

Spinning Indie: What are your plans for the DC basement space and record library?

Jacob Waters: We’re not sure at this point. While it’s a cool space, its highly secluded location makes it tough for it to be a crucial part of music on campus. We plan on digitizing the CD library at some point and putting it on the WHRC laptops. For the room, we’ve thought about using it as a place for student bands to mix and perhaps record their music. Another option would be to use it as a place for students to record their podcasts for the site.

Lounge/Live Music Space at WHRC (with View of Studio B)

Spinning Indie: Are their plans to have a station do live streaming or carrier current broadcasting again?

Jacob Waters: At present, no. The live stream, though a neat setup to have, ultimately did not contribute to the music community on campus, and so was not worth the expense. Same goes for carrier current.

Spinning Indie: Will any of the shows be broadcast on campus (dining halls? campus buildings?)

Jacob Waters: We would definitely like to play our podcasts at the DC. Remember, though, that the live shows will be done all over campus, making the new format much more public than the previous one.

Wall in WHRC Office

Spinning Indie: What shows are slated for fall 2009?

Jacob Waters: We have a great variety of shows preparing for the fall, including oldies, electronica, hip-hop, indie rock, political talk, and one where community members are interviewed. Our goal is that the heterogeneity will ensure that everyone in the community will have at least one show to their liking.

Spinning Indie: Anything else?

Jacob Waters: We realize that this is a radical change, and that the current incarnation of WHRC will be tough for alumni to recognize. But we all knew the positive impact an effective music club could have on the campus and saw that the existing format of WHRC was simply not working. We think the new format will create a club that most effectively takes Haverford students' passion for music and spreads it throughout the community. That’s fundamentally all we want to do: create a club that accomplishes what the previous format tried to but could not. Maybe this will start a new trend, maybe not. But everyone involved is very excited by the idea and eager to start a new chapter for WHRC.

Also, I’d like to personally thank the SC Treasurers for trusting us enough to give us money to get us off the ground, as well as the Haverford Communications Office for agreeing to build our new website, which should be launched this summer.

Old WHRC Board

Thanks again to Jacob and David for sharing with me their plans for WHRC. It's bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I'm happy to see that they are committed to creating a cool new campus community, but I'm also saddened that traditional radio broadcasting is pretty much dead at Haverford. I'm curious to see how things go for them in the fall and wish them all the best.

Previous Spinning Indie Radio Station Field Trips:

Field Trip to WECB at Emerson College
College Radio Field Trip 2 - Cal Poly's KCPR
College Radio Field Trip 3 - Notre Dame's WVFI
Radio Station Field Trip 4 - WFMU in Jersey City
Radio Station Field Trip 5 - East Village Radio in NYC
Radio Station Field Trip 6 - WNYU in New York City
Radio Station Field Trip 7 - Northwestern's WNUR
Radio Station Field Trip 8 - Stanford's KZSU
Radio Station Field Trip 9 - University of San Francisco's KUSF
Radio Station Field Trip 10 - Santa Clara University Station KSCU
Radio Station Field Trip 11 - UC Berkeley's KALX
Radio Station Field Trip 12 - KSJS at San Jose State University
Radio Station Field Trip 13 - WBAR at Barnard College
Radio Station Field Trip 14 - KFJC at Foothill College
Radio Station Field Trip 15 - UC Santa Cruz Station KZSC

Friday, June 12, 2009

Toronto is the Place to Be for Radio Fans this Summer: Deep Wireless and The Radio Conference 2009

This summer was surely the time to travel to Toronto if you're a radio fan and scholar. Thanks to Mediageek for cluing me in to the recently completed Deep Wireless Festival of Radio Art and Radio without Boundaries, which took place from May 1 to 31st. Events included performances, installations, and a conference May 28-30th. According to the festival website,

"The seventh annual Radio Without Boundaries conference makes Deep Wireless an internationally sought after destination for those with a general interest in radio and transmission art, sound and radio artists and/or those who just want something more from radio."

And then coming up July 27th to 30th, there is The Radio Conference 2009: A Transnational Forum being held at York University in Toronto. According to their website,

"This conference – the fifth transnational forum – aims to continue the work of Sussex 2001, Madison, Wisconsin 2003 Melbourne 2005 and Lincoln 2007 to bring together scholars, practitioners, and students of radio to share ideas and perspectives on radio’s cultural role in an increasingly global media context."

I'm disappointed to be missing this one, as there are a number of college radio-related papers on the tentative schedule. What's really cool is that there are papers about college radio in Canada, the U.S., and Pakistan; which should be fascinating.

As far as I can tell, though, there is only one paper about U.S. college radio (by Spinning Indie friend Nick Rubin!). I'm so glad to see some college radio attention at the conference, but am surprised there aren't more U.S.-themed papers on the subject. I wish I'd been aware of this conference sooner so that I could have potentially added to the conversation. Here are the college radio-related papers that I came across in the program (there could be more):

Reckoning: U.S. College Rock Radio, 1981-1984 (Nick Rubin, University of Virginia)

Radio FemCon?: Categorizing ‘women’s music’ on Canadian campus-community radio (Angela Wilson)

Panel: "Frequencies of Struggle” – The Role of Campus-Community Radio in Canadian Alternative Media (National Campus-Community Radio Association of Canada)

Practices of Localism at Low-Power FM Radio Stations (Cynthia Conti, New York University)

Social Impact Panel
Prospects and Challenges of FM Campus Radio Stations across Pakistan (Saaddia Ishtiaq, Voice of Women, Radio VOW)

Canadian Campus Radio: Tensions and Questions Concerning the “Independent” and Market Logic (Brian Fauteux, Concordia University)

Talking Back: The Role of Campus-Community Radio in Social Change and Identity (Sharmeen Khan, York University/Ryerson University)

One of the sponsors of the conference is the Radio Studies Network (which also publishes Radio Journal), a group of academics devoted to increasing the amount of radio scholarship being done across a range of disciplines.

And, hey, if you're planning to attend The Radio Conference 2009 I'd love to hear highlights!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

College Radio Tidbits: KUR adds Phone Broadcast, Vinyl Saturday, KZSU and Student Unrest during Vietnam War, Hofstra Radio Turns 50

A few college radio-related news items:

Kutztown University Station Adds Phone Broadcast

It's interesting to see the myriad of ways that college radio stations are getting their signal out to listeners. AM, FM, carrier current, netcasting, HD channels, satellite, iPhone streams, and cable television are commonly used, but now, KUR at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania has decided to add an additional transmission over the phone. Listeners can call 610-465-7860 to hear the station. Phone lines certainly aren't new for radio broadcasts, as live remote technology often uses telephone wires for transmission. However, what KUR is doing is a little different. According to Reading Eagle article:

"...KUR - 88.3 FM/1670 AM - has partnered with Virginia-based AudioNow. The company captures KUR's Internet audio stream, amplifies it and broadcasts it to a local telephone line...Elan J. Blutinger founded AudioNow in 2008 after he realized he couldn't hear the college station in Boston where his two sons worked. He collaborated with a group of engineers and received venture capital funding. The KU station had been working with a consultant on ways to expand its signal capabilities when the consultant heard of AudioNow. KUR became the first college station to participate, Blutinger said."

Record Store Day Expands to Monthly Event Starting June 2oth

After the huge success of this year's Record Store Day in April, the organizers of the event have decided to expand the project into a monthly happening called Record Day Presents: Vinyl Saturday beginning Saturday, June 20th. As with Record Store Day, limited release vinyl will be available for purchase in stores on that day, including material by Modest Mouse, Wilco, Green Day, and Scarlett Johansson/Pete Yorn.

Former Stanford President Talks About Using KZSU During Period of Student Unrest

DJ at KZSU in January 2009

An article on the Stanford University website profiles former university president Dick Lyman and his role on campus during the Vietnam War and student protests. In the piece he mentions using student station KZSU to help communicate his point of view. The article states:

"Lyman...said the hostility toward him on campus back then was intense.

'Unless you've tried to speak to a crowd of several hundred people, all of whom hate your guts, you can't realize how difficult it is,' he said. 'In some way everyone's articulateness is decreased by that kind of circumstance.'

Instead, Lyman held court on KZSU, the campus radio station.

'Any Stanford student journalist, from the radical papers as well as the Stanford Daily and the Stanford News Service person, would be able to come and ask any question they wanted and I'd answer,' he said. 'That made it impossible for the radicals to say: "We can't find out what he thinks. We can't find out why he did what he did." They were reduced to saying: "He's afraid to face us." Which was true. I didn't want to face a crowd of 500 if I could talk over the radio to a dozen reporters in my physical presence. It was much more constructive for me.'"

Campus radio in the days before the Internet, cell phones, and Twitter was often the source for breaking news, and there are more great examples of that in the related story about Stanford University in their alumni magazine.

Hofstra Radio Turns 50

According to a press release, Hofstra Radio marked its 50th anniversary on June 9, 2009. They will be celebrating with a number of alumni events in November, including a silent auction, gala, and special inductions into their own radio "Hall of Fame." Additionally, they are doing a speaker series and inviting alums back to the airwaves. The press release states:

"WRHU, Radio Hofstra University, is Long Island’s oldest non-commercial radio station, broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 88.7FM and online...Founded in 1950 as a club, WHCH was limited to the Hofstra campus. In 1959, the station received an FCC broadcast license and became WVHC, the Voice of Hofstra College. In 1983 the station expanded its broadcast range and became WRHU. Now, with a staff of more than 175 members, and a program schedule that includes 42 varying formats, the award winning radio station prides itself on pre-professional broadcast training and development. WRHU is an integral part of Hofstra’s School of Communication."