They say that the best ideas are often the simplest, and perhaps also the most obvious.
In December 2010, I was searching for an idea that would unite college radio stations across the country in a new and exciting way. I particularly remember watching the film “The Social Network” and being inspired by how a single idea can spread so quickly and generate so much excitement.
The next morning I woke up with the crystallized idea of College Radio Day. After an extensive search online and confirming the availability of the domain name, I knew that this idea to unite all college and high school stations for one day just might have a chance of taking off. It was amazing to me that this had never been done.
Our own long tail
I had been recently reading “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More” by Chris Anderson. I was struck by the idea that the “long tail” of hundreds of college radio stations in North America that individually perhaps don’t have as big a reach as most commercial radio stations, would surely make a formidable impact if they all came together.
Rob Quicke, Risa Pappas and Brian Gorski, from left, at WPSC.
There would be strength through unity and, on this particular day, we would ask people in North America to simply tune in to their local college and high school radio stations to realize that there exists a place on the radio dial for adventurous and passionate programming.
So the original idea was for a celebration of college radio, to remind people that we exist and that we are one of the last bastions of creative programming out there.
However, a much more pressing and serious issue arose almost immediately: the recent trend of selling off college radio stations by cash-strapped colleges and universities (Rice and Vanderbilt universities, for example).
There is a strong need to remind colleges and universities that selling off their college stations silences their students’ voices. We need to take a stand and collectively say, “No more stations must be sold!” The recent “minute of silence” by College Broadcasters Inc. was an excellent idea and very successful in raising the profile of college radio stations. We want to support the efforts of CBI, IBS and other organizations that are fighting these decisions.
Benefits of Participating
From the College Radio Day website:
1. The College Radio Day organization will provide professional sweepers/imaging for on-air play and graphics, banners and logos for all radio stations that participate. This will ensure nationwide consistency in the branding of the day.
2. College Radio Day will provide items and prizes for station participants to give away on the day (for example, some autographed and rare/unique items from popular music artists) to assist in boosting listenership and fundraising efforts by individual stations.
3. Stations who participate in College Radio Day agree to air up to 30 minutes of our keynote radio feature: “College Radio in 2011: Its Past, Present & Future” during the day (but have the option to play a 15-minute edit if you prefer). Additionally, we will provide stations optional “news” audio bulletins throughout the daygiving information and updates on participating stations, their programming and fundraising efforts as well as and other activities. This provides national exposure for participating college radio stations and reinforces the feeling of national unity throughout the day.
4. Participating radio stations are encouraged to gather and share, when opportunity allows, specially recorded IDs and liners for College Radio Day use on other participating radio stations throughout the country. For example,“Hi, this is Chris Martin from Coldplay, and you are listening to College Radio Day.” If one station lands a great band liner or ID, we all do. It’s time to harness our collective resources and connections!
College radio plays a hugely valuable role in discovering the next big music artists as well as being a vital training ground for future media broadcasters. It is my hope that we remind the larger North American audience of the vital importance of college radio and its unique role in the media landscape, and also remind college administrations just how important their college radio stations are.
So, what can you expect on College Radio Day, Oct. 11, 2011?
We hope that many of the station participants will use the day to showcase their best programming, and to bring in special guests for musical performances and special interviews. It’s free for stations to register and we hope that those students involved will feel something truly magical by being part of a large and vibrant movement. Before the day we will be seeking to unleash the students’ creativity by asking them to contribute radio programming (sweepers, interviews and features) that we will share with other radio stations that are interested in playing them.
College Radio Day is an exciting idea, and in many ways, now a necessary one. I invite the readers of Radio World to tune in on Oct. 11 and enjoy the enthusiasm of college radio broadcasters.
Information about College Radio Day can be found at www.collegeradioday.com. College Radio Day is a not-for-profit organized by volunteer staff members from college stations.
Rob Quicke is founder & president of College Radio Day as well as general manager of WPSC(FM) at William Paterson University, Wayne, N.J. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.