In the past couple of months there has been an outbreak of schools selling, or attempting to sell, their college radio broadcast license. In the wake of budget cuts and other effects from a downturned economy, the universities which oversee these stations have realized they are sitting on potentially millions of dollars. The University of San Francisco recently sold their KUSF broadcast license and Vanderbilt University’s WRVU is currently on the chopping block. It’s a continuing trend which absolutely must stop.
I will tell you upfront that a few of the writers for TSOI are Vanderbilt University and WRVU alumni, but I am not one of them. When visiting Nashville in the mid-90’s I remember tuning into WRVU and hearing tracks from the recently released Rocket From The Crypt album Scream, Dracula, Scream! before catching their sold out show later that evening. I can guarantee that no other Nashville station would have been playing RFTC that day and that’s what I love about college radio. Having a yearly operating budget that is often less than the cost of running a single ad on a commercial station gives you the freedom to feature a much more diverse range of artists than their commercial counterparts.
As a writer for a music site, I’m constantly bombarded with new music sent to my inbox so I no longer listen to the radio that often. But I am in the minority. Nearly 90% of the population still listens to radio on a daily basis. When I do find myself surfing the dial, I always end up at the local college station (KSPC 88.7) opposed to the other local indie “The Smiths on the hour, every hour” stations.
I can definitively say that this website would not exist without college radio. Not only did college radio mold my musical tastes and world view, it was also my first experience in volunteer coordination, event planning, budget writing, fundraising and dealing with an advisory board. I’ve found the skills I gained from working and volunteering for a college radio station much more useful than the ones I received from my completed Psychology degree. Adopting the less popular/more expensive “online-only” broadcast format would greatly diminish the quality of the volunteer experience and do an extreme disservice to the student bodies of these universities.