This Tuesday, October 11th marked the first annual College Radio Day all over North America and in the wake of that event, more attention has been fixated on the future of college radio (at least by the mainstream press). Understandably, stories about the celebration of the medium of college radio have been overshadowed a bit by the tales of stations in crisis who have lost their licenses or are fighting pending sales. As College Radio Day founder Rob Quicke told me back in June, College Radio Day was conceived initially as a way to give college radio more exposure. But he soon realized that the day could also serve to bring attention to recent college radio struggles as well.
Although each participating station recognized College Radio Day in its own way (some held concerts and events, others aired special public affairs shows), all were supposed to air the documentary “College Radio: Its Past, Present and Future” (or an edited 15-minute version) that was put together by the College Radio Day organizers. The documentary gives a great glimpse into not only the history of college radio (I was so pleased that they dug deep and discussed a number of stations that were active in the 1920s), but also includes a discussion of the impact and influence of college radio on music and culture. The third part (for which I was interviewed) delves into college radio’s present and future and includes stories from folks involved with some of the stations currently in “crisis.” It also features commentary from people who don’t believe there’s a crisis at all and instead cite the flurry of stations starting up online. Whichever perspective you believe, it’s an interesting listen for anyone involved with college radio today.
When I checked in with Quicke the day after College Radio Day, he seemed both exhausted and elated. He told me that 365 stations participated and that he’s already gotten requests from stations all over the world, including the UK, France, Northern Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, who would like to join in next year. In light of that, College Radio Day 2012 will be an international event slated for October 9, 2012.
Quicke told me that he was amazed by all of the press attention, but that he was most gratified by the individual experiences taking place at college stations all over the country. Quicke said,
“My personal favorite part of the day was calling stations across the country and really experiencing the exciting vibe that was happening. It was also cool calling Honolulu and getting to speak to the GM at KTUH 90.3 FM at University of Hawaii who was excited about CRD. It was 2 am EST but 8 p.m. in Hawaii! Also, kinda funny, we called a station in Canada for an update. But none of them had heard of CRD, and had no idea that someone had registered them. Even more comical was the fact that they immediately put us live on the air when we called. It was bizarre – but classic college radio! But probably the most satisfying moment was getting home and collapsing into bed at 4 am – knowing that the day had gone well.”
Quicke said that it was a frenzy of activity at his station, WPSC, but that he mostly listened to other stations throughout the day and was “blown away” by the “creativity and passion” that he heard. During my own radio show at KFJC, I celebrated College Radio Day by spending half of the program playing music off of compilations from college radio stations from all over the country. For me, it was nice to show some love for different stations and I got a strange thrill out of reciting call letters other than our own. It was also a nice reminder to me that all of us in college radio are part of something bigger than our own stations.