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Podcast #211 – Surveying Community Radio’s Deep Archives

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 19:43

More than 600 community radio recordings from 1965 – 1986 are archived at the University of Maryland. These tapes were shared through a program exchange operated by the National Federation of Community broadcasters. The breadth of programming contained in these programs is remarkable, and underscores the still-active mission of the NFCB to support and promote the participation of women and people of color at all levels of non-commercial broadcasting.

Laura Schnitker is the curator of the Broadcast Archives at the University of Maryland, joining the show to tell us more about this special archive of programming, highlighting some of the gems in the collection.

This episode of the program was recorded and originally aired in September of 2018 and is being rebroadcast this week. The original episode number was 158

Show Notes:

The post Podcast #211 – Surveying Community Radio’s Deep Archives appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Radio Station Visit #160: KCR at San Diego State University

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 18:07

During my full day of radio station tours in the San Diego area in June, 2019, I visited college radio station KCR at San Diego State University. On a sprawling campus with a student population of more than 36,000, the station was a bit tricky to find. After a few missed turns, I parked atop an 8-floor garage and made my way the KCR studio in the school’s Communication building.

San Diego State University. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

KCR’s General Manager Ahmad Dixon greeted me, giving me the grand tour of the main KCR studio and also led me on a quick jaunt to see a satellite building that serves as a production studio and social hub for the station.

Sign for college radio station KCR’s live studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Dating back to 1969, KCR is in the midst of its 50th anniversary celebrations this year. KCR has never had an FCC-licensed over-the-air terrestrial signal; but it does have a very interesting, interrelated relationship with a long-time public radio station on campus.

Back of KCR T-shirt. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Radio activity began in 1960 at the then-named San Diego State College, when educational radio station KEBS launched as part of the school’s speech department. A 2009 obituary for founder Ken Jones, recounts that,

Jones was the brain behind KEBS-FM (Educational Broadcasting in San Diego) which later became KPBS. It was the first radio station licensed to a California State University campus. In the mid-1950s, as a speech communications professor at San Diego State College (now SDSU), Jones began his work toward starting an educational radio station on campus. KEBS began broadcasting on Sept. 12, 1960 from the Speech Arts Building. The original schedule was only two-and-a-half hours, five days a week.”

Retro KCR College Radio photo on T-shirt. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Although students were involved in educational radio station KEBS, it was not a student envisioned or student-led program, which ultimately prompted the eventual founding of student radio station KCR. On the KCR Alumni website, Jerry Zullo shares the story of how KCR came to be:

The story starts in 1966.  At that time, Radio-TV majors (later called Telecommunications & Film) were required to complete a Senior Project in order to graduate.  A student named Martin Gienke decided to do a feasibility study, complete with recommendations, on setting up a student radio station at San Diego State…

At that time, KEBS-FM (later KPBS-FM) was considered a ‘student station;’ that is, it was operated by students who were forced to work there as part of their Radio-TV curriculum.  KEBS broadcast with 780 watts with an antenna on the roof of the Speech Arts Building. We were on the air Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., playing classical music and boring taped ‘educational’ programs.  Hardly anybody’s real idea of a student station.

Martin roped me into the project.  He’d do the study, and then my Senior Project would be to get the station on the air.  The ideal solution would have been to take over KEBS and turn it into a real student station, but after discussion with faculty we knew that wasn’t going to happen.”

In KCR engineering room. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

I was especially intrigued to read that in the 1960s, Martin Gienke and Jerry Zullo embarked on tours of “every college radio station in California.” Zullo explains:

We did interviews, found out what worked, what didn’t work, how the stations were set up, formats, funding, pitfalls to be careful of, etc.  In the end, we ended up with a report about three inches thick. The final recommendation was to make San Diego State’s student station a carrier current station, using electrical wiring in the buildings to carry the signal.”

Vinyl records at college radio station KCR in 2019. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

A few years later, in 1969, the dreams of a student-run carrier current station were realized, with transmitters in dorms all over campus and the AM broadcasts even leaking into the nearby community. Zullo writes,

We started engineering tests and found that not only did we cover all the dorms, but the signal sort of leaked (kind of on purpose) and we covered the entire campus.  In fact, if you were driving, you could listen to KCR on Interstate 8 between San Diego Stadium and College Avenue.  On Montezuma Road and over to El Cajon Boulevard, you could hear the station from about 54th Street to 63rd Street.”

1981 KCR airplay survey. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Meanwhile, educational radio station KEBS-FM transitioned to a public radio station and was one of the charter members of NPR, even changing its call letters to KPBS in 1970.

Posters and photos on wall at KCR College Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Today, KCR still has an AM signal, broadcasting at 1610 AM for about a mile around campus (the AM location has changed over the years) and can also be heard on Cox Cable. Most listeners tune in to the station’s internet stream, however. Additionally, KCR has a strong video presence, with web cameras in the studio and a thriving YouTube channel.

Vintage ad for KCR’s cable signals. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

I began my tour in KCR’s on-air studio in the Communication building. General Manager Ahmad Dixon pointed out various highlights, including the brand new, bright red fabric soundproofing material lining the walls. The station was DJ-less during the visit and “QC” (aka quality control) was playing in place of a live human. Curated by the music director, QC is the name for the mix of music, including indie and local material, that runs on automation.

KCR College Radio studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Student-run live shows at KCR are “totally freeform,” according to Dixon. While DJs have creative license to play what they’d like from the station’s library or from their own collections, they are encouraged to play “odd, esoteric, non-mainstream” material, Dixon explained. The station also airs a mix of talk shows and sports programming (with a “hyperfocus” on San Diego State sports).

KCR College Radio’s live studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

A talk show fanatic, Dixon joined KCR as a freshman (he’s a senior in Fall 2019) and relished the opportunities to experiment on the air. He reminisced a bit, telling me that he’d spun Kids Bop records, played vinyl backwards, and improvised a song while on-air.

KCR College Radio General Manager Ahmad Dixon in the studio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

These days it’s a bit more challenging to play vinyl on KCR, although some DJs bring in their own turntables to do so. The station still has an extensive vinyl collection, housed in lockers along with some older CDs.

CDs at KCR. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Interestingly, KCR has two distinct locations on campus- the main studio in the Communications building and an additional studio across campus. As Dixon led me to the second space, he explained that the station has been wanting to beef up its podcasting efforts and the additional production-focused studio is helping with that.

KCR On Demand podcast request form. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

KCR was able to take over an unused Daily Aztec student newspaper office when the publication reduced its space in the building. Today, it serves as an office, hang-out space and production facility for KCR. The main room is spacious, with seating, desks, computers, filing cabinets, and lots of historical items, including photos, and old KCR publications. Behind a door is a studio stocked with audio equipment.

Old decorated boombox at KCR. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

With about 150 members of KCR, the station is busy both on-air and off-air, with radio shows, an active blog, and video content. In the past it also produced a magazine called “Dead Air,” which I caught glimpses of on the station’s walls.

“Dead Air” magazine at KCR. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

It was gratifying to see that KCR has an active alumni network documenting the station’s 50 year history. Its alumni page is full of goodies, including scans of archival photos, program guides, vintage ephemera, and audio. Alumni still grace the KCR airwaves; with one DJ, Joe Shrin, a 40+ year veteran of the station. At KCR since 1976, he’s said to be the show host who has been there the longest.

KCR College Radio studio in 2019. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Thanks so much to Ahmad Dixon for the summer tour of KCR! This is my 160th radio station tour report and my 105th college radio station tour. Read all of my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives. I also share tidbits about my San Diego-area college radio travels on Radio Survivor Podcast #202.

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At last a US history survey that really gets radio

Sun, 09/15/2019 - 14:47

All general surveys of the history of the United States of America mention radio to some extent. Invariably Pittsburgh station KDKA’s pioneering coverage of the presidential election of 1920 receives a context-free mention, followed by a rundown of notable ‘golden age of radio’ shows. With that, the author(s) typically put the medium to bed until several chapters later, when the obligatory discussion about television ensues. I expected more or less the same from Jill Lepore’s noted overview These Truths: A History of the United States. Instead I found a deep discussion about the subject that every media history lover should read.

Chapter eleven of These Truths is titled “A Constitution of the Air,” and begins with a profile of the founder of broadcast regulation: Herbert Hoover. “Nothing so well illustrated [Hoover’s] idea of a government-business partnership as radio,” Lepore writes, “an experimental technology in which Hoover, a consummate engineer, invested the hope of American democracy.” As secretary of commerce Hoover rounded up all the major players in radio for a series of conferences because he understood that broadcasting would make governing “an intimate affair.” Soon politicians would be able to reach into the homes of millions of Americans without bothering to visit them. Broadcasting, Hoover fervently believed, would turn the country into “literally one people.”

Lepore situates broadcast radio at the center of the enormous optimism of the 1920s. “We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from the earth,” Hoover declared as he ran for president in 1928. He was on hand on October 21, 1928 to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb. But as the festivities went on, “news came by radio that shares on the New York Stock Exchange had begun to fall,” Lepore writes. “It was as if a light, too brightly lit, had shattered.”

The rest of the chapter beautifully narrates the Great Depression and New Deal years, constantly identifying radio as a witness to and participant in the era. Hoover’s irony was that while he understood the importance of AM broadcasting, he did not know how to use it. As the economy collapsed, he read scripts over the airwaves in a “dreadful monotone.” Intended to reassure Americans, they conveyed the opposite. It fell to his successor, Franklin Roosevelt, whose bout with polio had taught him the meaning of suffering, to effectively embrace the medium. “His acquaintance with anguish changed his voice:” Lepore explains, “it made it warmer.”

Again and again, Lepore brings us back to broadcast radio and its partnership with globe changing events: Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels launching a massive manufacturing of radio sets to reach every German home. “Mind-bombing,” Goebbels called his campaign. Fire breathing populists like Father Charles Coughlin and Louisiana Senator Huey Long selling their anti-semitism and economic cure-all plans over the airwaves. In response, NBC launched America’s Town Hall Meeting of The Air, which sponsored debates and aimed to “break radio listeners out of their political bubbles,” in Lepore’s words. Across the nation more than 1,000 debating clubs staged their own mini-versions of Town Hall’s discussion of the week. All this faded away as the next world war loomed, its coming foretold over shortwave radio by CBS correspondent H.V. Kaltenborn, he narrating the Munich Crisis of 1938. Meanwhile Czechoslovakia radio broadcasters battled Nazi propaganda. “Once again tonight we must perform the distasteful task of refuting invented reports broadcast by the German wireless station,” one news anchor declared.

I wish that ‘Constitution of the Air’ had not concluded with a conventional account of Orson Welles’ famous broadcast of The War of the Worlds. I am convinced by scholars Jefferson Pooley and Michael J. Socolow that the “panic” over the broadcast is largely mythological, exaggerated by newspapers anxious to convince advertisers that radio could not be trusted. Still, I was moved by Lepore’s final passage, describing Kristallnacht, the Nazi assault on Germany and Austria’s Jewish population:

” . . . ‘This is not a Jewish crisis,’ wrote Dorothy Thompson. ‘It is a human crisis.’ It was as if the sky itself had shattered.

From the White House, [President Franklin] Roosevelt said he ‘could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth-century civilization.’ It was indeed difficult to believe. But a war of the worlds had begun.”

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College Radio Watch: San Diego Tours and More News

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 08:10

While in San Diego for a conference this summer, I visited a handful of college radio stations. My tour reports launched this week with a visit to Griffin Radio at Grossmont College. Stay tuned for more and peruse our archive of 159 station tours and counting.

In other news, College Radio Day is coming up in just a few weeks on October 4. Does your station have big plans?

More College Radio News Station Profiles Infrastructure Events Awards and Accolades Alumni

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Podcast #210 – Youth Radio by the Beach

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 19:15


RadiOpio Program Director Laura Civitello has the enviable job of running a youth radio station on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. From an upstairs perch at the beach side Pa’ ia Youth and Cultural Center, Civitello manages KOPO-LP, whose on-air hosts range in age from 9 to 19 years old. On this week’s show, Civitello tells the story of how RadiOpio came to be and talks about the unique role that this LPFM station is playing for young people in the town of Pa’ia.

Show Notes


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Radio Station Visit #159: Griffin Radio at Grossmont College

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 11:01

Just east of San Diego, California in El Cajon is Grossmont College, home to online college radio station Griffin Radio. An extension of the community college’s Media Communications program, Griffin Radio is a “practical applications laboratory,” providing students with experience running and operating a radio station.

Griffin Radio studio. Photo: J. Waits

Griffin Radio is the descendant of AM carrier current station KGCR, which dates back to at least the 1970s. A 1986 piece in the Los Angeles Times explains the state of the station at the time, although misstates the station’s lengthier history:

Grossmont College’s tiny KGCR, which went on air 18 months ago and now broadcasts Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., has three formats. The first hour is devoted to jazz; 9 a.m. to noon is alternative music, and noon to 7 p.m. is Top 40.”

Call letters were eventually changed to KGFN, with the station ultimately getting renamed Griffin Radio after it dispensed with its carrier current broadcast. At the station since 1997, General Manager/Faculty Advisor Evan Wirig told me that the station’s AM carrier current transmissions inexplicably only went to the library. He remarked that the rationale behind transmitting radio in a quiet library space never made sense to him, although the speakers under the bookstore were appreciated.

Retro signage on Grossmont College building. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

He ended the carrier current broadcasts around 2000 and joked that prior to that one could apparently hear the AM broadcasts under Grossmont College’s old lamp posts. Things have changed quite a bit since then and the campus continues to evolve, made apparent to me after I navigated through a labyrinth of construction adjacent to the Digital Arts building where the station is housed.

Sign at Grossmont College pointing to Media Communications building during construction. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

A long-time radio fan and media industry veteran (he met his wife while doing college radio), Wirig seems to relish his current role as mentor and teacher. Like a proud parent, he enthusiastically shared anecdotes about students and alumni from the program, marveling at their achievements. Many have gone on to radio and media industry jobs and students regularly win broadcasting awards from various organizations.

Plaque at Griffin Radio celebrating student award winners under Dr. Evan Wirig. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Like most college radio stations, Griffin Radio has student leaders, regular air shifts, and many off-air projects, from promotional activities to production work. Live programs typically air between 8am and 3pm on school days. During my summertime visit students were not around, although the station runs on automation. Down the hall from the Griffin Radio studio, a journalism “Bootcamp” was underway, with students from various colleges getting a week-long crash course in hands-on journalism. Topics and projects included editing, podcasting, news reading, and radio news.

Poster advertising Journalism/Broadcast Bootcamp at Grossmont College. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Although separate from the academic year’s radio program, there’s certainly overlap between the boot camp and the three semester long radio series. Those wishing to participate in Griffin Radio must first take a class in basic audio production or basic announcing. Advanced students have the opportunity to take on major leadership roles at the station, including Station Director, Program Director and News Director. While those positions are hired by Wirig; the student leaders are tasked with interviewing and hiring candidates for additional roles, including Production Manager, Music Director, and so on.

Director bins at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

For the most part students are selecting the music that airs on Griffin Radio, which coalesces around a format that Wirig dubs “college top 40.” Encompassing a wide array of genres, the sounds include oldies, new age, rap, hip hop, independent music, country western, Broadway tunes, 80s new wave, progressive, metal, alternative and even holiday music. He added that it’s a “good, eclectic mix” that focuses mainly on the “college audience.” Although they are free from FCC rules as an internet station, Griffin Radio still eschews profanity-laden tracks and avoids material “promoting a hostile environment,” as Wirig relayed.

Computer monitor at Griffin Radio showing tracks playing. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Wirig has high standards, telling me, “I expect a degree of professionalism.” Students can only play music housed in Griffin Radio’s digital library and when there isn’t a live show, automation kicks in. Occasionally bands play in the spacious station space or on its adjacent balcony. Additionally, Griffin Radio regularly does remote broadcasts from campus events, including career fairs and transfer days.

Stack of CDs at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

As he’s preparing students for real world, industry jobs, Wirig explained that for him, “hands on” learning is critical. “You just can’t learn outside of doing it,” he remarked. While students are gaining exposure to industry standards, like music rotation, they are also given the opportunity to do specialty shows and podcasts (recent ones have dug into musicals, urban legends, and the urban dictionary). Some students have done shows in their native languages, including Latinx Fest (in Spanish) and a techno show in Japanese; both shows drew audiences from afar, including Japan and just across the border in Mexico. One long-time regular Griffin Radio listener even sends DJs pizza when he is impressed by what they are doing on-air.

Audio equipment at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

As we wrapped up my tour, Wirig waxed philosophical about journalism and media, remarking that the program continues to reinvent itself and that media is “very resilient.” Pointing out that, “leadership never changes” and that “good audio will always be good audio,” Wirig clearly relishes watching his students grow and succeed. “I will never give up on anybody who keeps trying,” he opined.

Event binder at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Thanks to Evan Wirig for the wonderful visit to Griffin Radio. This is my 159th radio station tour report and my 104th college radio station tour. Read all of my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives. Also, you can hear some tidbits about my San Diego-area college radio travels on Radio Survivor Podcast #202.

The post Radio Station Visit #159: Griffin Radio at Grossmont College appeared first on Radio Survivor.

College Radio Watch: Princeton Review and More News

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 08:45

After a bit of a summer vacation, we are back with some college radio news. Earlier this week, I shared Princeton Review’s new “Best College Radio Station” list, a ranking of 20 schools based on student surveys asking about the popularity of their school radio stations. On the list are some old favorites as well as a few newbies.

We’ve also been busy covering the culture of college radio throughout the summer. I hope you caught my colleague Eric Klein’s interview on Radio Survivor Podcast #207 with Nathan Moore, who heads up college radio stations WTJU and WXTJ at University of Virginia.

In upcoming months, I will also be sharing write-ups from my summer college radio station travels.

More College Radio News Infrastructure, Expansions, New Stations Disasters
Events Profiles of Stations, Staff, Programs Awards and Accolades Music Culture Alumni College Radio History Popular Culture

The post College Radio Watch: Princeton Review and More News appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Podcast #209 – Audio Fiction’s very long history of innovation

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 18:53

From the “Classical Radio Era” to today’s hottest podcasts, we’re here for the love of radio drama and fictional sound-art. Our guest is Neil Verma, author of a book and teacher of classes on the subject, although as he tells us on today’s episode, the class became a lot more popular with students after he changed the name from “Radio Drama” to “Audio Drama.”

Today’s episode is a rebroadcast of one of our favorites from this year. It originally aired 1/15/2019 as episode #178

Radio Survivor is a listener-supported podcast.

We dedicate hours of time and effort for each weekly episode.

Help us sustain and grow this show by contributing as little as $1 every month. With four episodes every month, that’s just 25 cents for each one.

Make your monthly contribution at http://pateron.com/radiosurvivor.

Show Notes:

Theater of the Mind – Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama

Neil Verma essay on The Shadows

Some audio drama recommendations from this episode

The Classical Radio work of Norman Corwin

J.G Ballard’s Radio Plays on the BBC

The Shadows

Wolverine: The Long Night

The Truth

Homecoming

Classic Radio’s The Shadow

Nightvale and affiliated programs

Pacific Northwest Stories

Ars Paradoxica

Limetown

Deathscribe

Jennifer Waits’ article on Unshackled

Matthew Lasar writes about and speaks on the podcast about Mae West

The post Podcast #209 – Audio Fiction’s very long history of innovation appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Princeton Review’s 2020 “Best College Radio Stations” List

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 14:25

In early August, Princeton Review released the latest edition of its annual college rankings guide, The Best 385 Colleges: 2020 Edition. While the lists it compiles of the best party schools and the most beautiful campuses may garner the most headlines; its annual “Best College Radio Station” list has been drawing me in for years. Since 2008, I’ve been combing through these rankings, which are often a source of pride for college radio stations.

The 20 colleges on this year’s list are once again an interesting mix of schools, from large universities with multiple radio stations to tiny liberal arts colleges with online-only stations, and even a school with a fairly new low power FM station. Many of these stations are new to me and I was also intrigued to see a school from outside the United States for the first time in all the years that I’ve been reporting on the rankings. As I’ve noticed before, the northeast is over-represented and the west coast is under-represented. Of note, no schools from California are on the 2020 list, while seven schools from New York made the cut.

Best = Popular

As a reminder, although the Princeton Review describes its college radio results as “Best College Radio Station,” the title doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s the skinny:

1. Results are based on student surveys

2. Surveys were conducted at 385 colleges

3. Students are asked to judge the popularity, not the quality, of an unspecified campus radio station at their own college

4. Radio stations are not named in the survey or in the resulting rankings

5. Only schools surveyed can make it into the rankings, so college radio stations at schools that are not surveyed by Princeton Review won’t appear on the list

A number of colleges appearing on the “Best College Radio Station” list have multiple radio stations, including student-run stations, large public radio stations, and everything in between. It makes sense that students would indicate that their school’s radio station is “popular” if they are on a campus with a high profile professional radio station and/or with several radio stations.

Digging into Methodology

As was the case for the 2019 edition, the 2020 college radio results are based on three years worth of survey data. Around 140,000 students were surveyed at 385 colleges, representing approximately 364 students per campus. Survey results for this edition are culled from responses given during the 2018-2019, 2017-18, and 2016-17 academic years. The survey asks: “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements at your school?” and among the list of statements is: “College Radio Station is popular.” Respondents are given the following options: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree or Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree.

How Similar is this Year’s List to Prior Lists?

For the 2020 Princeton Review list of “Best College Radio Stations,” 12 of the 20 schools were on the 2019 list. Of the eight that were not on the 2019 list, four have appeared before. The other four schools (University of South Florida, McGill University, Louisiana State University, and Drury University) have not shown up in the 13 years that I’ve been tracking. This year’s mix of stations is less familiar to me. Whereas last year I’d visited college radio stations at 8 of the 20 schools on the overall list; I’ve only been to 4 of the 20 stations on the 2020 list. This is also the first time that I’ve seen a school from Canada on the list (McGill University).

The complete list for the 2020 edition is listed below (for comparison, here are the lists from the 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008 editions of Princeton Review).

2020 Princeton Review’s Best College Radio Stations (aka Most Popular College Radio Stations)

Note: I’ve added station names and call signs as the Princeton Review only lists school names. Schools in bold were not on the list last year.

1. Emerson College (WERS 88.9FM and WECB, Boston, MA)

2. St. Bonaventure University (WSBU-88.3 FM, St. Bonaventure, NY)

3. University of South Florida (WUSF 89.7 FM and Bulls Radio online/89.7 HD3/on campus 1620AM, Tampa, FL)

4. Arizona State University (KASC 1330 AM, Tempe, AZ)

5. Manhattanville College (WMVL, Purchase, NY)

6. Syracuse University (WAER 88.3 FM, WERW, WJPZ 89.1 FM, Syracuse, NY)

7. Ithaca College (WICB 91.7 FM and VIC Radio, Ithaca, New York)

8. Reed College (KRRC, Portland, OR)

9. McGill University (CKUT 90.3 FM, Montreal, Canada)

10. Washington State University (KZUU 90.7 FM, KUGR and Northwest Public Radio, Pullman, WA) – Most recently appeared on 2018 list

11. Louisiana State University (KLSU 91.1 FM, Baton Rouge, LA)

12. Providence College (WDOM 91.3 FM, Providence, RI)

13. Columbia University (WKCR 89.9 FM, New York, NY)

14. Hofstra University (WRHU 88.7 FM, Hempstead, New York)

15. University of Puget Sound (KUPS 90.1 FM, Tacoma, Washington)
Most recently appeared on 2018 list

16. Seton Hall University (WSOU 89.5 FM, South Orange, NJ) – Most recently appeared on 2014 list

17. Denison University (WDUB 91.1 FM, Granville, OH) – Most recently appeared on 2018 list

18. Truman State University (KTRM 88.7 FM, Kirksville, MO)

19. Fordham University (WFUV 90.7 FM, Bronx, NY)

20. Drury University (KDRU-LP 98.1 FM, Springfield, MO)

Learn More about College Radio

If this is your first time on Radio Survivor, please take a look at our massive archive of college radio content. We cover college radio news on Fridays in the College Radio Watch column, report on college radio culture on our weekly radio show/podcast, tour college radio stations regularly, and have a page devoted to college radio basics.

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Switzerland To End FM Broadcasts in 2024

Mon, 09/02/2019 - 16:55

Radio World reports that Switzerland’s FM radio broadcasts are due to end by the end of 2024, according to a release from the country’s Federal Office of Communications. OFCOM says at the end of July only 17% of people in that country listen to FM exclusively.

I am a bit chagrined that this story flew under my radar until now. Back in December 2014 the Digital Migration working group formulated a plan to switch entirely over to digital DAB+ broadcasting, and in 2015 “more than 80 percent of private radio stations agreed to this decision,” according to OFCOM. So this has been in the works for several years.

DAB+ is a digital radio standard used through much of Europe, including the U.K. and Norway, the latter of which turned off national FM broadcasts in 2017 – many local FM stations are still on the air. OFCOM reports that 65% of Swiss listen to the service, while only 35% use analog FM.

In addition to commercial and state-supported public broadcasters, Switzerland has about 15 community radio stations. According to a 2018 article in Swiss Review, OFCOM will subsidize 80% of DAB+ broadcast costs for non-commercial stations, and is offering financial support for the installation of digital studios. Presumably, community stations would qualify for these grants. Searching around some stations’ websites indicates that quite a few already simulcast on DAB+.

Subsidizing a station’s DAB+ transmission is not quite the same as building it a brand new transmitter, as it would be with FM or HD Radio. A single DAB+ transmitter can accommodate multiple stations’ signals as a multiplex. Thus, in most countries with DAB+, like the U.K., Norway and Switzerland, each station actually leases space, rather than owning its own transmitter. In that way DAB+ is more efficient than FM.

One trade-off of DAB+ is that a centralized infrastructure makes the system inherently more vulnerable in times of natural disaster, or just run-of-the-mill calamity, like a power outage. It also leaves stations less independent. In Switzerland the DAB+ infrastructure is owned and operated by the for-profit company Digris.

While Digris is investing to grow its infrastructure – like building transmitters in mountainous roadway tunnels – DAB+ listening is still mostly in motor vehicles, rather than homes. This is not unlike HD Radio in the U.S., where it’s difficult to even find a digital-capable home tuner.

What this means is that most home listening in Switzerland may simply move to internet radio in 2024. No doubt it’s likely much home and office listening already is online, and those who want to hear DAB+ outside the car have plenty of receivers to choose from, though reception might be challenging outside of urban areas.

From what I can see now, the path to an FM turnoff in Switzerland seems even clearer than it was in Norway, where public opinion hasn’t been altogether favorable, and many stations remain analog. In part this is likely due to relative consensus amongst Swiss broadcasters in general, not just major national broadcasters. A significant government subsidy, combined with overall strong support for public broadcasting also help.

Because of these factors, magnified by the country’s small geographic size and high per capita income, Switzerland is an outlier – just like Norway before it. Although the idea of a full digital transition has been floated in other European countries that have DAB+ broadcasting, both large and small, it hasn’t gained traction, often owing to the cost and complexity of sunsetting an established, proven and reliable technology that exhibits few downsides. Moreover, it’s easier to transition a relatively affluent population of 8.4 million to digital radio, than the larger, more economically diverse 66 million of the U.K. or 82 million of Germany.

No, this is not a bellwether of analog radio’s demise, nor an indicator of a digital transition here in the U.S. I suspect as 2024 draws closer we may hear more critical voices in Switzerland, when Swiss citizens realize that millions of their radios will become obsolete – at least for listening to radio from their native land.

Folks in Geneva and other cities and towns along the border will still be able to tune in stations from France, Italy, Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. That’s something less accessible to Norwegians, who are much more geographically distant from other FM broadcasting countries.

In the meantime, keep an enormous grain of salt on hand for when you see the torrent of clickbaity “Is this the end of FM radio” stories, if and when this news hits the feed of a tech writer on a quota.

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Explore Fascinating Radio Archives with The Kitchen Sisters’ #KeeperoftheDay

Sat, 08/31/2019 - 18:31

Rosa Parks interviewed on KPFA in 1958. A 1986 recording of Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack on WLBS in New York City. A clip of astronaut Jose Hernandez from the “Historias de Si Se Puede” series.

These are a few of the audio and radio archives recently shared by the Kitchen Sisters as part of their week-long #KeeperoftheDay series highlighting partners of the Radio Preservation Task Force. The week kicked off with a short piece from RPTF chair Josh Shepperd. You can hear Shepperd talk more about the task force on podcast #192, guesting with co-chair Neil Verma.

For those not in the know, the Kitchen Sisters have been carrying the torch for exploratory radio documentary since way before podcasting re-popularized the genre. They’ve also been strong advocates for archiving and preservation of sound history. Their podcast, “The Kitchen Sisters Present…,” highlights “[s]tories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission.” This includes artifacts like the ephemeral sounds of Burning Man and “Stubb’s Blues Cookbook Cassette.”

The Sisters also recently received a GRAMMY Preservation Grant to assist them in preserving and protecting their deep archive of interviews, stories and music.

If you wade into their deep pool of sounds you’ll inevitably take a full dive. The Kitchen Sisters must be on the radar of every radio lover.

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Podcast #208 – Radio and Podcast Pathfinding in San Francisco and Podcast Movement

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 00:01

Jennifer is back from travels, that included Hawaiian community radio, to join Eric and Paul. First up, a question: is “pathfinder” a good replacement for the word “pioneer,” the latter of which has an unfortunate colonial heritage? Listener Pat Flanagan suggested it to us after we asked for input a couple of episodes, so we provisionally adopt it here to talk about people who are finding new paths for our favorite audio media.

Jennifer updates us about a new pathfinding low-power FM station backed by the San Francisco Public Press, and announces that the call for papers is open for the next Radio Preservation Task Force conference in October 2020.

Paul reports back from Podcast Movement, where some 3000 podcasters of many stripes met for 3 days in Orlando, Florida. He remarks on the wide variety of podcast email newsletters he learned about, and the Podcast Brunch Club. We note recent allegations of plagiarism against a popular true crime podcast, using it as a launching point for a discussion about journalism and ethics in community broadcasting and podcasting.

Show Notes:

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Walter Benjamin Radio Diary #3: on puppets and dictators

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 17:01

Walter Benjamin broadcast his third “Youth Hour” radio talk with a lament on the state of puppet show entertainment in that famous city.

“Children who want to go to puppet theater don’t have an easy time of it in Berlin,” Benjamin explained. They’ve got better deals in Munich, Paris, and Rome. But one production company still remained, he noted: Kasper Theater, which had its roots in the 18th century puppet character of that name. Kasper was a priggish smartass and the star of a puppet entertainment genre called Kaspertheater, which audiences regarded as synonymous with puppetry in general.

Kasper the Friendly Hand Puppet;
Florian Prosch i.A. der
Piccolo Puppenspiele für die WP
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Before newspapers began publishing comic strips, puppet shows may have been the first entertainment to try to reach both children and adults at the same time. Benjamin reminisced on the Kasper character of the early nineteenth century, who appeared

“not only in plays that were written for him; he also sticks his saucy little nose into all sorts of big, proper theater pieces for adults. He knows he can risk it. In the most terrible tragedies nothing ever happens to him. And when the devil catches up with Faust, he has to let Kasper live, even though he’s no better behaved than his master. He’s just a peculiar chap. Or in his own words: ‘I’ve always been a peculiar fellow. Even as a youngster I always saved my pocket money. And when I had enough, you know what I did with it? I had a tooth pulled’.”

Before going any further with Benjamin’s observations on this subject, I note that KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon broadcast a fun little puppet theater show for a spell. A 2014 episode featured an interview with a Kasper-like character named “Turner D Century,” candidate for mayor in that city.

“You have some interesting positions that I would like to talk about, ” the host began.

“What are they letting a woman into the radio studio for”? Mr. Century demanded. “This modernization has gone too far.”

Unintimidated, the host pressed on. “Well, Mr. Century, let’s just get into it then. You have a very strong position on the bridges of Portland.”

“We’re going to tear down the bridges once and for all. It was a terrible idea to build them. We’ve wound up connecting the beautiful city with the riff raff, who are free to wander the bridges any time they want and pollute the general environment . . . It’s disgusting, quite frankly.”

“Are you going to ask taxpayer- “

“No, we’re just going to blow them up with dynamite!”

Interestingly, Benjamin managed to sneak some observations about the subject of democracy into his puppet show talk. “A proper puppeteer is a despot,” he explained, “one that makes the Tsar seem like a petty gendarme.” The puppet master writes the shows, does all the art work, dresses up the puppets, and plays all the roles via their own voice. But at the same time, the puppeteer must remain wary of the powers beyond puppet land. “First from the church and [second] the authorities,” Benjamin’s radio essay warned, “because puppets can so easily mock everything without being malicious.”

Benjamin wrapped up his radio essay with summaries of various puppet routines that he found amusing. The last of these was titled “The Discovery of America,” and featured a conversation between Columbus and a “New Worlder.”

“Who goes there?” asks the New Worlder puppet. “What do you want?”

To which the Columbus puppet replies, “I call myself Columbus” and “Simply to discover.”

“And that is how America was discovered,” Benjamin’s description of the exchange summarily ended, “which is now a republic that for a number of reasons I cannot recommend. As soon as this republic gets a king, it will become a monarchy; that’s just the way it is.”

That is how Benjamin concluded his third talk, broadcast on December 7, 1929 in Berlin, less than a year before Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won a stunning electoral victory in Germany’s Reichstag (Parliament). And this is how I am ending my latest Walter Benjamin diary entry, just days after United States President Donald Trump went on Twitter to order all US companies to stop doing business with the People’s Republic of China.

This is the third entry in my Walter Benjamin Radio Diary series.

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Call for Papers – ‘Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal’ Conference

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 12:00

Radio Survivor is pleased to share an announcement from the Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) of the Library of Congress about a call for papers for its forthcoming conference, “A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal.” The event will be held October 22-24, 2020 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Presentation proposals are due by December 1, 2019. Read on for the full details from the RPTF:

A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal

Conference Dates: Oct 22-24, 2020

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Proposal Deadline: Dec. 1, 2019

Call for Papers

The Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) of the Library of Congress invites applications for papers, panels, moderated discussions and workshops for a conference marking the centenary of broadcasting in the United States.

We seek presentations by archivists, radio and television historians, artists, information scientists, journalists, sound studies scholars, broadcasters and others highlighting how preservation can help us complicate and rethink our understandings of the history of mass media at community, local, national and international levels. We particularly welcome participants who put archival resources to work today to enrich radio, television, podcasting, music, literature, journalism, public history, installation art and other creative practices. 

The conference will take place Oct. 22nd to 24th, 2020, at the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C. Registration is free for all presenters, moderators and respondents. 

Celebrating One Hundred Years of Broadcasting

In the United States, the radio industry began primarily as a form of wireless telegraphy used for point-to-point communication. After World War I, government licensing began for stations that were changing the medium by airing point-to-mass broadcast transmissions of music and voice. From the celebrated Election Day broadcasts of Westinghouse station KDKA on November 2, 1920 to similar services offered by hundreds of other stations from coast to coast, the industry paradigm shifted. The broadcasting model endures to the present, characterizing media systems from large commercial networks to public broadcasting, satellite radio and online streaming services, and RSS-based podcasting.

This conference marks the centenary of that paradigm shift and investigates radio’s century of constant renewal and rebirth over the course of the intervening century, during which various radio and radio-like practices have been invented and reinvented, forgotten and remembered, in settings across the United States. We want to highlight a century dotted with “new” sound practices in this restless medium, from the first non-English programs to the first broadcasts aimed at communities of color, from the first international shortwave transmissions to the first true crime podcasts, the first educational shows to the first radio-based art. Our conference underscores the role of preservation in documenting (and even driving) the process of renewing radio from generation to generation and from community to community.

Renewing Radio Heritage

This meeting also takes place at a moment in which media history is itself changing, thanks to a renaissance in radio and television preservation, which has created an archive that is more diverse and richer than ever before, conveying a sharper sense of how broadcast media helped Americans articulate understanding of nation, region, class, gender, race, sexuality and ability. That is thanks in part to the work of the Radio Preservation Task Force, which for five years has been pursuing projects and partnerships to change the very archive itself in a way that necessitates fresh thinking about many firsts—and seconds, and thirds— in conventional national and international narratives of radio history.

Created in 2014 in fulfillment of a radio preservation mandate in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Plan, the RPTF is charged with fostering collaborations between researchers and archivists to facilitate work on radio preservation, developing an online inventory of extant collections, promoting preservation of endangered radio collections, encouraging use of radio and sound archives in educational settings, and cultivating academic study of archival radio materials. It currently boasts a network of hundreds of scholars and archivists who share materials, fundraising, and best practices. The RPTF has also constructed a national database aggregating information on over 2,500 radio collections from coast to coast, and has encouraged and overseen several special issues and anthologies on radio history and preservation. It is currently developing pedagogical guides for classroom use and resources to assist with preservation of endangered radio materials. To advance its goals, the RPTF partners with over 40 local, national, and international academic, archiving, and media organizations. A full list of partner institutions is available on our conference site.  

Suggested Themes

This conference will focus on preservation’s historic and ongoing role in documenting and shaping new research from policy studies to sound studies, and new media practices from journalism to art. To that end, we seek panels, presentations and workshops whose ambit could include, but is not limited to:

  • Highlighting a specific archive based on historic recordings that challenge assumptions about mass media history, the invention or reinvention of formats, or show outreach to new audiences.
  • Offering best practices based on experience in preservation, from digitization and metadata to fair reuse, either on air or in arts settings.
  • Exploring techniques for researching, processing or reusing the changing radio archive, such as how to use specialized methods from machine learning to deep listening.
  • Examining communities whose stories have been lost but can now come to light as a result of the RPTF’s various initiatives and caucuses, especially communities of color, native communities, women’s radio history, LGBTQ histories, as well as among differently abled communities. 
  • Examining how preservation can highlight radio’s historic and ongoing role in activism, especially at the regional, local and community level.
  • Looking at international histories of radio, and at preservation practices outside the United States, particularly in Latin America and Europe, from which U.S. archivists might learn. 
  • Focusing on long-arc narratives of radio history—the history of crime reporting, for instance, or civil rights radio—that stretch across the entirety of the “broadcast century” and whose history isn’t limited to one “tier” of radio, but rather can be studied in contexts from large networks to local radio and podcasts, and everywhere in between.
  • Studying how preservation methods might be adapted for emerging forms of radio beyond traditional broadcasting platforms, particularly podcasting, as well as the study of broadcast platform elements themselves, from radio tower systems to RSS.
  • Focusing on preserving recordings from arts and freeform stations, as well as exploring how the materials that RPTF projects have uncovered can be reused in contemporary art, journalism and research in the new golden era of podcasting and sound art more broadly.
  • Providing practical advice for independent archivists, particularly when it comes to public history outreach, identifying possible funding and grant writing.

To Participate 

Proposal options include papers, pre-constituted panels, moderated discussions, and workshops. To submit a proposal, email abstracts and other materials specified below in a single document to radiotaskforce@gmail.com by December 1, 2019. For questions, please contact neil.verma@northwestern.edu.

Papers. Individual archivists, scholars or artists are invited to submit an abstract for a paper of about 20 to 30 minutes in length on our conference themes. Successful applications will be organized into panels by the steering committee. Applications should include: A brief biography; contact information for the applicant including any institutional affiliation; a 400-word abstract with a title; and five keywords.

Pre-constituted Panels. Pre-constituted panels should have 3-4 participants, plus a moderator and/or respondent. These panels will be based on the presentation of papers, with each speaker given 20 to 30 minutes to speak. Applications should include: A brief biography for each applicant; contact information for each applicant including any institutional affiliations; a 400-word abstract with a title for each paper; five keywords for each paper; a 400-word abstract explaining the goal and ambit of the panel.

Moderated Discussions. These events will differ from pre-constituted panels in that they do not require formal prepared remarks and will instead focus on discussion and exchange. Groups of 4-6 participants may apply, with each participant expected to speak for 5-10 minutes about a current project, archival recording, or issue. Applications should include: A brief biography for each applicant; contact information for each applicant including any institutional affiliations; a 400-word abstract explaining the goal and ambit of the panel; five keywords for the panel as a whole.

Workshops. For workshops on specific issues (e.g., digitization, grant writing, analysis tools, recording workshops), a single presenter or team leads discussion and has an open forum to field questions. Applications should include: A brief biography for the workshop leader(s); contact information including any institutional affiliations; a 400-word abstract explaining the goal and ambit of the workshop including any technical equipment that would be needed.

The Library of Congress RPTF Conference Steering Committee

RPTF 2020 Conference Chair:

Neil Verma, Northwestern University

NRPB Chair:

Christopher Sterling, George Washington University

Library of Congress:

Steve Leggett (NRPB)

Cary O’Dell (NRPB)

RPTF Director:

Josh Shepperd, Catholic University and Penn State University

RPTF Assistant Director:

Shawn VanCour, University of California, Los Angeles

Conference Committee Members:

Matt Barton, Library of Congress

Claudia Calhoun, Fairfield University

Inés Casillas, University of California, Santa Barbara

Susan Douglas, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Christine Ehrick, University of Louisville

Anna Friz, University of California, Santa Cruz

Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, University of Texas, Austin

Michele Hilmes, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Bob Horton, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Tom McEnaney, University of California, Berkeley

Julie-Beth Napolin, The New School

Stephanie Sapienza, University of Maryland

Jacob Smith, Northwestern University

Michael Socolow, University of Maine

Dave Walker, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

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Podcast #207 – Building More Communities Around Your Station

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:47

Nathan Moore is the General Manager of WTJU at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hear how and why he has lead the way to build a podcasting studio for the community to use, as well as a student run LPFM station and a concert series and a summer camp.

Show Notes:

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Podcast #206 – Podcasts Are Radio

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 19:56

With mergers, acquisitions and millions of dollars changing hands, podcasts continue to be in the news. But just when it seems like well-funded networks are edging out the indies, Paul and Eric are here to assure community and college broadcasters and independent podcasters that there is growing opportunity for them, too.

Show Notes:

The post Podcast #206 – Podcasts Are Radio appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Podcast #205 – A Brief Update

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 23:49

Hello, Eric Klein here. This week’s episode of the radio show features wall to wall music selected by Matthew Lasar to demonstrate his passion for the radio format he would like to hear more of in the world, Hybrid Highbrow. All that music would be against the rules in a podcast, so this web-only version of the show this week features a little bit of me talking about Matthew’s ideas; I talk about a few of the recent episodes of the program you might have missed; and then a quick update on the conclusion of our humble fund raising campaign.

Show Notes:


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Thanks to All Our Supporters!

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 00:54

We wrapped up our first truly focused Patreon campaign last week. Thanks to our many supporters, we more than doubled our base of patrons, bringing us to a grand total of 64. We are elated and humbled that so many readers and listeners joined on to help support our work.

The final tasks to finish our first ever ‘zine are underway. All 43 of you who are supporting us at the $5 tier or higher as of Aug. 1 will be receiving your copy later this month. We’ll keep you updated with posts to our Patreon page.

Now, you might recall that our goal was to reach 100 patrons by August 1. You’ll also note that we didn’t quite get there. It was an ambitious goal, but a true one. That really is the kind of regular support we need to in order to do the work we proposed: to document the history of Indymedia and LPFM on the occasion of these movements’ 20th anniversaries.

However, it’s work we still really want to accomplish. Moreover, we think there’s no sense is taking an “all or nothing” approach. 

Our plan, then, is to begin work on documenting the history of LPFM.  The objective is to have a first installment to share on our podcast and here on our website in January 2020, when the service celebrates its 20th birthday.

We’re scaling back from the grander narrative of linking in the independent media movements of the 90s – including community radio – that came together around the 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle. But given that low-power FM has long been one of our principal areas of coverage, we think it’s a story that will benefit Radio Survivor readers and listeners.

We’ll also reveal more details of this effort as it comes along. 

In the meantime we want to say Thank You again! If you have any questions or comments please hit us up on social media or drop us a line at editors@radiosurvivor.com.

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Ireland Can’t Quit Longwave

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 21:24

I’m still playing catch up with a queue of interesting radio stories I’ve yet to post. Although this news dates from May, it didn’t get much play on this side of the Atlantic, and should be of interest to Radio Survivors.

Ireland’s longstanding – and oft-threatened – longwave radio station RTÉ 1 on 252 kHz is staying on the air. With the ability to serve listeners over a longer distance than AM (mediumwave), though covering less area than shortwave, listeners in the Irish diaspora across the UK have relied upon this station to keep in touch with news and culture back home.

However, the cost of maintaining aging equipment and the availability of RTÉ 1 on the internet caused the state broadcaster to plan its shutdown five years ago. That’s when the station first appeared on my radar. Immediately listeners across Ireland and the UK registered their protests, noting that many older people who rely upon the broadcasts aren’t able to use internet radio easily, and that in-car listening isn’t so easily replaced by the internet, either.

In 2016 the RTÉ put the closure on hold. It was finally cancelled this May, when the broadcaster announced that it would perform necessary repairs and maintenance in order to keep the 252 signal on air for at least another two years. That will require a two month interruption in service.

As a contingency, RTÉ has explored simulcasts on digital DAB+ radio in the UK, but regulations that require broadcasters to be UK-based have been a stumbling block.

Longwave radio, which sits below the AM band between 148 and 283 kHz, was never implemented as a broadcast service in North America. It primarily travels via groundwaves for distances up to about 1200 miles, whereas shortwave travels by skywaves for even longer distances. Longwave’s advantages are that it has fidelity and reliability that are more like AM radio, while covering a larger area.

Though longwave has been in service about as long as AM mediumwave, RTÉ 252 has only been going since 1989. As contributor Paul Bailey explained, the broadcaster acquired the operation from Radio Luxembourg as its rock music programming was losing ground to native stations in the UK.

30 years is still a decent tenure, and the decision to keep the 252 signal going is a testament to the power of radio, and the notion that obsolescence is in the ear of the beholder. The point of radio is to reach listeners, and if the new technology won’t reach those who benefit most, then is it really better?

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College Radio Watch: Don McGahn’s College Radio Moment and More News

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 08:12

It’s been an exciting week, with readers and listeners chipping in to help Radio Survivor with our Patreon campaign. A whole slew of you donated at least $5 a month by the August 1st deadline and will be getting a copy of our hand made ‘zine. We’ve had so much fun crafting it, that we are hoping to create more in the future. Although we didn’t meet our 100 donors goal, we are super stoked by the 60+ monthly contributors and generous one-time donors who are helping to support our work.

Don McGahn’s 1990s College Radio Moment

One of my favorite stories in recent memory is a tale about the confluence of college radio, 1990s punk rock, and 2019 government officials. With members of Generation X in their 40s and 50s today, it stands to reason that plenty of them with high profile jobs also have indie rock/college radio pasts.

I enjoyed every word of “I Was on a Compilation CD with Don McGahn in College,” John Dugan’s account of how his 90s self crossed paths with the former White House counsel. Dugan writes:

There’s really nothing more ’90s than being on an obscure compilation CD. And perhaps there’s nothing more 2019 than being from the DC area and having a bizarre, tangential relationship [to] the Trump administration.

…an old college radio chum alerted me to the fact that Don McGahn, President Trump’s OG White House Counsel and purveyor of fine ’80s cover tunes in Scott’s New Band, has a solo song on the Jericho Sessions CD. Yes, the Don McGahn who Trump tried to pressure into firing Robert Mueller.

Dugan explains that his band also appears on the Jericho Sessions compilation CD of campus bands, which was put together in 1991 by University of Notre Dame’s student-run college radio station WVFI (“Voice of the Fighting Irish”). Read his article to see vintage images of the CD compilation as well as Dugan’s reviews of the student bands.

Coincidentally, my husband is also a WVFI alumnus, but alas has no compilation CDs from his radio days there. We did return to the station back in 2008, with our 2-year-old in tow. That tour (saved for posterity as my 3rd radio station field trip report) is the stuff of family lore thanks to my daughter’s epic face plant into a college radio couch. While she dozed away, my husband and I enjoyed a leisurely tour through the WVFI studio and library, having no idea about the cross-section of characters and bands that had occupied those same spaces over the decades.


More College Radio News Profiles of Stations and Personnel Events Programming Popular Culture Alumni
History

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