October 11, 2011, saw the first College Radio Day, the nationwide bringing-together of college radio stations in the hopes of raising awareness and support for college radio. It proved to be enough of a success that a second CRD was planned for October 2, 2012. CMJ caught up with one of the founders of CRD, Rob Quicke of William Paterson University’s WPSC, to see what is in store for the second College Radio Day.
What sort of reception did the first College Radio Day get from colleges and from the world outside of college stations?
In a matter of months, over 360 college stations signed up to participate, and we got coverage from The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and CMJ.com. The fact that so many stations came together for a day of unity for the very first College Radio Day surprised many people, including me. It was nice to see college radio get so much press coverage for a change. College radio is sorely undervalued and often overlooked by mainstream culture, so it was about time that we came together, got noticed and, hopefully, increased listenership and support for college and high school radio stations.
You recently announced a partnership with SoundCloud. How will that enhance CRD? What features will be available to participating stations?
SoundCloud is going to give every single participating college and high school radio station that participates in CRD a free Premium Pro account worth $325. Stations will be able to use SoundCloud to host their content, allow listeners to share it everywhere (including embedding it in Facebook), as well as provide some tools that foster listener interaction like timed commenting. Some stations are already using it—WVYC 99.7 FM and WCCR, City College Radio, New York for example—and CRD used it last year to host and share our audio. It’s really nice to have a benefit like this for stations to use if they so wish, and SoundCloud has made it clear that it totally supports the college radio community and CRD.
You have also announced the idea for a College Radio Day album. What inspired this idea?
The idea came from the desire to have a project that would bring college and high school radio stations together again throughout the year (not just on CRD), as well as to raise funds to promote and protect stations. It’s another way that college radio stations can demonstrate their important contributions to musical culture and to remind people that they are tastemakers too.
The key to this being a success is in getting the college and high school stations to be involved with choosing and submitting tracks for this album. This will not be a typical album but will represent the entire movement of college radio. CRD’s promotions team, which is made up of students from a variety of college radio stations throughout the country, will be organizing how the tracks are eventually selected. But it’s important to say that we want as many stations and students to be involved with this as possible.
Will it be digital only, or are you making a physical copy?
It will be digital to start with, but if there is demand for it we want to do a CD version. Personally, I want to do a vinyl version as well, but it depends if people are interested in buying that. We really want to make an album that is truly and authentically crafted in the spirit of college radio. We need to get this right, and if it becomes a tradition, it will grow organically in a good way. Either way, no guts, no glory.
Did any stations put together particularly interesting or noteworthy programming for the day?
On one hand some stations pulled out all the stops and showcased their best work and put on programming that was specially produced for the day. Yet many stations made the point to do their regular programming, arguing that if new listeners liked what they heard, then that is more representative of what they will be getting every day if they continue to listen. The beauty of CRD is that we don’t tell people what to do. Some stations have the resources to do huge events; others have just enough students to go on the air and broadcast at all.
However, there were so many things going on that were exciting. Just to name a couple, Sting Radio at the University Of Texas At Brownsville teamed up with their Student Radio Club and a local production company to celebrate College Radio Day with BMX bike performers, two dance crew performances and a live graffiti art demonstration. WSOU at Seton Hall University, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., featured either an interview with a band that WSOU helped to break or with one of the student managers talking about why college radio was important to them. Finally, KTAI FM at Texas A & M University, Kingsville, had an 11-hour blow-out on the Boulevard; their main University Boulevard was closed off for the day for the festivities. Their celebrations included a classic car show, 10 live bands, horse and pony rides (seriously), their mascot Porky and also their cheerleaders!
What role do HQ stations play?
We look to the state HQs to help get stations involved and registered in their state. We also ask that they keep us updated on the day with news and developments of what is going on at their station and within their state. And we ask them to help be administrators on the individual state Facebook groups as well. After CRD we then send each one an award certificate to recognize their efforts as being leaders.
Are you seeing CRD spread to other countries?
Last year we knew that the next CRD in 2012 was going to be international. We already have 423 stations in 12 countries! It has been really exciting to see how other college radio organizations such as Red De Radio Universitaria De Latinoamérica Y El Caribe (who call October 2 Dia De La Radio Universitaria) in Colombia, Mexico, and El Salvador have partnered with us for all Latin American and Caribbean college radio stations. In Italy we are partnering with UStation.it and RadUni Associazione Operatori Radiofonici Universitari to bring Italian college radio stations into the event. We also have stations in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Ghana! This is going to allow us to offer great opportunities for stations to participate in our CRD twinning program where stations can volunteer to be twinned with another college station around the world! Exciting times, as this is really uncharted territory now .
Earlier in the year, you joined with the New Jersey Devils for College Radio Night. How did this idea come about, and what did it entail?
The New Jersey Devils approached us with the idea after reading about CRD in a newspaper. Personally I know nothing about hockey and had never even been to a game! Yet, I recognized this was a really special opportunity for East Coast NJ/NYC area student broadcasters who are interested in sports broadcasting. The day was a great success, with all of the student representatives from 12 college stations being given access to watch the game in the press box as well as attend a panel on sports broadcasting as a career featuring Mike Levine (Senior Vice President Communications New Jersey Devils), Sherry Ross (WFAN), Matt Loughlin (WFAN), Steve Cangialosi (MSG+), Glenn “Chico” Resch (MSG+) and Ken Daneyko (three-time Stanley Cup Champion and Broadcaster MSG+)! The students then attended the coach’s press conference after the game alongside the regular media.
Do you have more events like College Radio Night planned?
I hope so! I think we might do it again with the Devils in the fall because it was a success, and the students had a great experience with the game and connected well with the panelists who also answered all their questions.
What other new things do you have planned for the second College Radio Day?
Well, I think things are percolating nicely at the moment. The summer is actually when we get things really moving and the students, who are no longer in class, start to ramp things up and get ready for October.