As news continues to travel of stations being sold by respective governing universities, college radio is caught in a tumultuous state. But in the midst of these troubles, supporters are rallying to win over new converts with the first-ever College Radio Day, set for October 11. Co-founded by general managers at two stations, Rob Quicke from William Paterson University’s WPSC, and Peter Kreten from Saint Xavier University’s WXAV, it’s a multi-station attempt to bring together devotees and the uninitiated in hopes to remind both why college radio matters. CMJ spoke to Quicke about what College Radio Day is about, the history it looks to respect and how it will stand out on radio dials across the United States and Canada.

How are stations and programmers responding to the idea so far?
So far, stations are responding very well. We officially launched the website June 6, and we’re approaching 37 college stations who have registered so far. So we are hopeful that this will catch people’s imaginations and stations will register for the day. I think this idea has come at a very important time, and so far, the stations we have contacted have been very excited. I also think that the idea is pretty simple as well; the aim of College Radio Day is to raise a greater, national awareness of the many college and high school radio stations that operate in North America by encouraging people who would not normally listen to college radio to do so on this day. It is hoped that those people who do tune in like what they hear and stay listening.

The original idea for College Radio Day was a proactive celebration of the medium of college radio. But, as recent events have shown [WRVU, for example], there is also a need to stand up and unite against colleges and universities who are electing to sell off their student FM stations to make some quick money. When they do this, they are silencing the voices of their students forever. Think of all those future generations of alums working in the media who will simply vanish. It is ironic that colleges, who encourage their students to ‘find their own voices’ as students, would effectively silence such voices by selling off their campus radio stations. Also, college radio stations provide an important link to their local communities, and that sense of localism will vanish too.

So, College Radio Day is now really trying to reach two audiences: people who would never normally tune in to college radio, and now college administrators who need to be reminded of the importance of what they have in their student radio stations.

What was the logic behind setting it in early October?
Two things; first, it just seemed like a good time considering how many events happen in the fall semester. Second, there is also a connection to having the day in the second week of October, as the first student operated radio facility in the United States began broadcasting on October 14, 1920 (WRUC). So October was a convenient and also symbolic choice!

What are the guidelines for participating stations, and how will their programming differ from a typical day?
First, it’s completely free for all North American college and high school FM, AM and online stations to register. We ask that stations simply broadcast that day as usual, but bearing in mind that there will probably be a larger than normal audience that is listening. We hope that many stations will use that day as a showcase for their best content, whether it be special content such as interviews, band performances or other stuff. We will, though, provide professional College Radio Day sweepers and IDs so that they will sound as part of the national movement of what we are doing on the day. We also ask that they air our keynote radio feature, “College Radio In 2011: Its Past, Present And Future,” which is now very topical considering the recent station sell-offs. We will also be providing optional College Radio Day news bulletins throughout the day for stations to air if they choose, which will detail all the activities that are occurring across the country. Should be action packed!

How will you work to make stations and outsiders aware that this is happening?
Word is getting out already, thanks to social media. I was surprised when the Chronicle Of Higher Education called for an interview last week, before we officially launched. We have about 10 student staff, based at WPSC, who are busy organizing this event over the summer. We will also be sending out mailings to all stations in North America over the summer. We also sincerely thank our official supporters CBI, IBS and USA News Network, who have endorsed the event and promoted it with their members.