Friday, January 29, 2010

My 5 Favorite Radio Shows

Over on Radio Survivor we've started a new monthly feature where the editors publish "top 5" lists related to some aspect of radio.

For our first installment we focused on our favorite radio shows and as you might imagine, many of mine have college radio connections.

Here's my list:

1. Radiodrome at KUSF (DJ Schmeejay)
2. Trading Time at KZYX (call-in swap show)
3. Skulltime for Kids at KFJC

4. Dr. Demento Show
5. The Shadow

Take a look at the articles above to see mentions of some other radio shows that I love that are similar to the ones that made the top 5 list as well. WTUL, WNUR, WFMU, and East Village Radio are among the stations that got some love.

My fellow Radio Survivors Matthew and Paul also put together interesting lists of shows that are worth checking out as well.

So, what shows do you think we missed? List your favorite radio programs in the comments or over on Radio Survivor.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thematic Radio on KSKQ

Imagine all of the potential themes in these CDs in the library at Flirt FM...

When you are a college or community radio DJ who has complete control over the content of your show, the possibilities can be limitless and often one's radio show can be interpreted as a personal mix tape.

When I read an article today in the Ashland Daily Tidings about KSKQ DJ Maya Seligman, I was immediately taken back to some of my radio shows from the 1990s in which I frequently crafted playlists with hidden word-based themes.

On her low power FM (LPFM) radio show (called "Maya's Mix") out of Ashland, Oregon, Maya selects a theme every week and bases her song selections around that theme. The former college radio DJ (at Swarthmore College station WSRN) has done programs where every song title includes the word "you" and has also programmed shows around the themes of fire, red, holiday, and foreign languages.

I love this thematic approach and have fond memories of the shows that I did back at WBGU (before we even had a computerized way to search the music library) in particular, with themes related to colors, animals, sickness, and my graduate school comprehensive exams (I played nothing but compilations). I also did the occasional playlist with a secret message embedded in the first letters of all of the song titles.

As DJs it's often easy to get into a creative rut and I do think it can mix things up a bit by selecting a theme and seeing what artists that might take you to. What sorts of themes have you done on your show?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

84-Year-Old College Radio DJ's Swing Show on KKSM

Being a college radio veteran myself, I'm never all that surprised to read about DJs who are still at it decades after they graduated from college.

An article in the North County Times this week profiles DJ Doug Best, who hosts "Doug Best Swings!" every Saturday morning on Palomar College radio station KKSM-AM. The radio veteran (he's had this particular show for 8 years) and former local politician has been on various stations including KSDO, KSON, KFMB, KOWN and KSPA.

The article offers up some thoughts from Doug Best, who points out: "'I've been able to hang in's fun to do. It may sound corny, but we like to figure we reach out and touch a lot of people each week.'"

Indeed, that's why so many of us keep doing radio.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What You Might Find in a College Radio Station

WNUR Record Library

Since I've now visited 20 radio stations all of the country (and beyond), I keep trying to come up with fun ways to share with people the amazing things that I've seen on these field trips. As a first step, over on Radio Survivor I just posted my list of the Top 5 Things Found at Every College Radio Station.

Beyond the standard stuff (record players, vinyl library, crazy DJs, etc.), I came up with my list of the things that I think make a college radio station feel like home.

Any guesses what they might be? What did I miss? (perhaps I'll do a part two!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Montco Radio Embraces their Online-Only Status

In my final trend piece for 2009 over at Radio Survivor, I wrote about The Growth of Internet Radio as one of the top radio trends of the past decade. At the end of the article I covered implications specific to the college and indie radio scene and pointed out that many college radio stations have decided to go web-only, either because their schools have sold off their terrestrial signals or because online-only is a better alternative to other options (cable, carrier current, weak terrestrial signal, etc.). Additionally, some new college stations have been able get started due to the ease of online broadcasting (vs. the red tape involved with getting a license for an AM or FM station).

One example of an online-only college radio station is Montco Radio at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. An article in today's Norristown Times Herald covers the station's embrace of netcasting:

"'In terms of broadcast, I don’t know if a tower is better than what's going on now. People can get Internet radio in their car, so they can listen while they drive, no tower needed,' said Morgan Betz, co-adviser to Montco Radio and full-time faculty member. 'A goal would be to serve the community more one day. We’re very happy with the Internet. We get a lot done, and in the long run, we’re very happy where we are.'"

The article points out that Montco Radio has been recognized by CMJ as one of the top Internet-only college radio stations in the country (and by the way, they were featured in the pages of CMJ as well).

What do you think? Is it better for college stations to have terrestrial signals or do Internet-only stations reach just as many listeners?