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Campus View: Supporting College Radio

Building the next generation of radio broadcast personnel

The author is general manager of Student Media at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. College Broadcasters Inc. commentaries are featured regularly at Radio World.

If you have avoided contact with your local college radio station over the years, you may be missing out on chances to give back to the future of the industry (and get something in return). Spending time with young people interested in radio can be fulfilling and re-energizing. It might also give them ideas for careers that they never thought possible.

Going in, you may find that the station is a pre-professional program run through a mass communications department, or that it is handled as a student organization, with no broadcast courses offered at the college. With the former, the organization could have a strict process for student involvement, and churn out ready-to-work graduates. Institutions in the latter category might lack staff and advisers who have industry experience, and those present will be eager to pick your brain about the industry and ways to improve operations. In either case, look out for these opportunities for mutual benefit.

Donate Old Equipment
If you have a closetful of supplies you no longer have use for, consider bringing a truckload to the college. Even if you stopped using it 10 years ago, chances are it’s an upgrade for the station. Consider building a relationship this way, as obsolescence rarely occurs at some college stations — equipment typically only goes when it’s totaled. This introduction would be a fantastic gateway to the other opportunities below, and lets you do some much-needed cleaning.

Host a Seminar on Campus
Offering to present on the radio industry and what your company does is a great help in expanding career options for students and provides a professionalizing experience for the station. Working with them will give them ideas for their organization’s improvement, and their exuberance could renew your excitement for your role. This provides great exposure for your organization in the community, and prepares you for a future presentation opportunity at a CBI convention.

Advertise Your Internships
Building a connection with the school opens doors to share your internships with campus career services and promote those opportunities across campus. Students will become exposed to the industry, and you may land your next star intern. And just as nonbroadcast majors will be involved in their campus station, students interested in your opportunities may not be currently engaged in their college station, making it important that the whole campus knows about it.

Offer Your Engineering Help
Without the presence of a full-time engineer, colleges will contract engineers to assist with issues on an hourly basis. You may already be aware of and even be on call for the 3 a.m. DJ wondering if the CD player is broken (yes, CD players are still in use). Opportunities may open up as staff changes, and it may be wise to monitor the LPFM news to see who may need support soon.

Volunteer as a Show Host
Many colleges offer community members the opportunity to DJ or otherwise host their own shows, and your presence could be a lynchpin for training up-and-coming student hosts. Even if you’re preoccupied with a 9 to 5 job, many stations operate live 24 hours a day, so your window of opportunity may be exactly what the station is looking for. Who would turn down that moonlighting gig?