The Importance of Localism and Non-Profit College Radio

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The Importance of Localism and Non-Profit College Radio “Radio is the salvation of the world…” Non-profit college radio is, by its nature, a medium dedicated to the local community and the public interest. The media landscape in the new millennium has brought about a homogenized world of radio. Large conglomerates like Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting own thousands of radio stations. Clear Channel designates one programming director for a particular format in an area, giving sometimes a hundred radio stations the same play list. These stations then have local DJ’s insert voiceovers into the programs, forming, basically, a nationally syndicated radio show. This national play list has caused most listeners to feel that radio has become a cold and stale medium. No longer can listeners pick up the dial and call a DJ to request a track. Instead, they would probably find only a board operator inserting commercials in between an already chosen play list. The role of college radio lies in the bleak future of diversity and innovation that is lacking in the industry today. College radio is non-profit by nature, relying on community and university funding to stay on the air. Most college radio offers music that is not heard on any other radio station in the market, and it also offers a place for communications majors to gain broadcasting and music industry experience. In its boundaries, it harbors the most pure form of radio, a place where DJ’s can be reached live on the air and one might hear a heavy metal show played right after a jazz hour. It is college radio’s eclectic and constantly changing format that gives it its thrift store appeal. College students usually serve as the DJ’s, and a different set comes and goes each semester. College radio is still a throwback to the days where people listened to radio for the pure thrill of the music. Very little has been written on college radio in particular, although a lot of literature exists on non-profit radio as a whole. Only since the mid 1980’s has college radio sprung into the spotlight as an important medium. Pour through any campus library and you will find many books on how to start your own radio station but little on the culture that has arisen from it. The most definitive source on college radio’s cultural influence is Samuel Saul’s The Culture of American College Radio.

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