I had the pleasure of traveling up to Boston and Philadelphia this past week to learn more about radio, and I figured a rambling blog post about it should follow. In Boston, I visited three college radio stations and in Philadelphia I attended CBI's yearly conference with our Promo Director, Ambrosia. So what did we learn?
My visit to Boston really put some things into perspective. It was also the first time that I ventured into a place that not only wasn't my station, it was also a place where college radio seems to operate a bit differently on the whole. I realized just how young KXUA is, being only 16 years old when the college radio stations in Boston mostly started in the 60's. I've had the feeling that we've got a long way to go to catch up to other stations, but maybe "catching up" isn't quite the right term. We're just now really getting into the swing of things, and we've grown impressively even from just the short time I've been here, so maybe trying to live up to established giants isn't quite realistic yet.
Of the three stations I did visit, those being WMBR at MIT, WRBB at Northeastern, and WZBC at Boston College, I noticed that structure was different than here at KXUA as well. These stations let people outside of the university, or "community DJs" to come on the air, something that we don't do. Also, within their universities, these radio stations are organizationally student clubs, like RSOs on the U of A campus. KXUA is different in that we belong to a different part of the university called Student Media. To a listener, this doesn't mean much but for us it defines our relationship with the university and how we're funded, so it was interesting to see the difference.
Another observation: two of these stations rely on human DJs being in the booth, and don't use an automation system to broadcast at night. KXUA is in the unusual position of being the only college radio station that isn't NPR affiliated in the area, so it's all the more important that we broadcast 24/7, but it was odd having one of my major assumptions about operating a station be challenged.
Now, about Philadelphia and the conference: Amazing.
Seeing hundreds of other students like us at the conference was great and gave us the opportunity to share our frustrations, our problems, and our ideas with one another in an environment that was positive and friendly. We know that there is always something that we can improve here at the station, and we've come back focused on reorganizing the station to better serve the university and the community as a whole. This means better outreach online and otherwise to our listeners and potential listeners, publishing more regularly on the site, and also making the station an even greater resource for our volunteers.
While these are incredibly vague details at the moment, we are excited to implement them and show real progress as we move from this year into the next. We've already taken some first steps, like with our new promotion and news teams, our new twice monthly news program, and our soon-to-air diversity podcast. We want to give to the community and university we call home, and as always, we welcome any suggestions that you'd like to share with us.
Until the next post,
-Lucas Coberly, Station Manager
P.S.: We've got a whole slew of photos on the way, but in the mean time we've got some on our Instagram for your viewing pleasure.