(Updated to correct UMiami call letters.)
In yesterday’s paper, I marked College Radio Day, a celebration of campus radio and an appeal to universities to hold on to their FM radio licenses.
Colleges are selling their FM stations for cash and pushing student radio onto the Internet, where the music plays on, but to a much-diminished audience. Streaming college radio still functions as a laboratory for artistic expression and broadcasting education, but without that crucial connection to the outside world.
(When I was a college DJ, there was nothing quite like playing Captain Beefheart and knowing his voice was, at that very moment, croaking forth from the speakers of someone’s BMW.)
Locally, the universities of Maryland and Virginia still operate FM stations; Maryland’s is run by students, Virginia’s by adults, but U-Va. students frequently get the mic. Students at American, Georgetown, George Washington and Johns Hopkins universities, among others, make do with Internet stations. Most of those schools once had student-run radio stations.
Colleges seem to have consigned campus radio to the Internet. But as a platform, it lacks the reach of FM radio. As Candace Walton, president of the industry group College Broadcasters Inc., put it the other day: “The big schools aren’t broadcasting their college football games online. Why is that?”
With that thought in mind, here is a list of 10 college radio stations that still occupy the FM dial and are still run by students.
1. KALX, Berkeley: Founded in 1962. Its first mixing board was built inside a cigar box.
2. KJHK, the University of Kansas: Founded in 1975. When the station played Van Halen and Culture Club one day as an April Fool’s joke, a listener threatened to blow up a campus building.
3. KUPS, University of Puget Sound: 24/7, 100 percent student-run and recent winner of an MTV “Woodie” for best college radio station.
4. WVUM, University of Miami: Started as a pirate station in 1967; operates on an FM dial that could only be termed eccentric. Another recent Woodie winner.
5. KZSC, UC Santa Cruz: Started broadcasting in 1967 out of a dormitory basement.
6. Radio K, University of Minnesota: This morning’s playlist ranged from Acid Baby Jesus to the Who.
7. WCRX, Columbia College: Part of a crowded and surprisingly tasteful Chicago FM dial.
8. WGRE, Depauw University: Founded in 1949; claims to be first “10-watt educational FM radio station in the country.”
9. WICB, Ithaca College: Founded in 1949; first operated out of a prefabricated steel hut.
10. WKDU, Drexel University: Programs include “I Speak for the Trees” and “Music that Kills Puppies.”