Kicking off Oct. 11, the first annual College Radio Day will be an international on-air showcase featuring programming targeted to spread awareness of the importance of college radio.
In the wake of budgetary crises the nation over, college radio stations around the country are closing their doors as their frequencies are sold to corporations willing to shell out big bucks for them, according to Zeb Navarro, the radio station manager of Palomar College radio station KKSM. Enter College Radio Day, a concerted effort on the part of over 300 community and university college stations around the country to reaffirm their role as a source of regional information and as a proving ground for the professional DJs of the future.
The idea for the event was conceived when the University of San Francisco’s radio station had its frequency sold to a corporation by its board of trustees. No student or faculty member who was involved with the station knew about the sale until it was finalized. Though the sale of the station was only part of a larger trend, this was the final straw, according to Navarro.
“They’re selling all these radio stations at the expense of the students,” Navarro said.
College Radio Day is an attempt to spread awareness of the importance of college radio as both a teaching tool and as an independent radio station tailored to students. During the event, Navarro will be coordinating programming that will highlight the importance of college radio and encourage students to participate in radio and other broadcast media including television and journalism.
“This is an event that is taking place entirely on the airwaves,” Navarro said. “We’re just going to be telling the community of the importance of college radio.”
College radio stations around the country will be running cross-promotions of other stations to push people to tune in. Donovan Files, co-host of KKSM radio show “The Miller Files” will be in-studio during the event. Files said he loved radio and lamented diminishment on other college campuses.
“The ability to broadcast on-campus is a great thing and people don’t know about it,” Files said.
The main reason college radio frequencies are so valuable is because many of the college stations were founded decades before modern FCC regulations concerning radio frequency zoning. As a result, many college stations have a broad reach that make them a tempting buy for corporations who want to break into new markets, according to Navarro.
The college radio environment provides a training ground where students learn how to run their own live show, work with the public and even how to deal with the FCC. These are valuable skills that can only be acquired through training that college stations provide.
“That kind of gives us a leg up over somebody off the street that just wants a radio job,” Navarro said.
Communications Department Chairman Pat Hahn said college radio’s role as a training tool is essential. Hahn, who was one of the original founders of KKSM back in 1975, said that so many current professionals got their start at college radio stations that when San Diegans turn on the radio, odds are good they’re listening to college radio alumni.
“Let’s let people know where radio DJs come from, they come from college radio,” Hahn said.