In a time when there is increasing concern over the health and future of college radio, Gregory Weston the president of College Broadcasters Inc. and general manager of WPTS(FM) at the University of Pittsburgh, is not one to cry wolf or worry that a few high-profile sales of stations (such as the University of San Francisco’s KUSF or Vanderbilt’s WRVU) spells gloom and doom for the industry.
In fact, Weston believes that these sales brought a new awareness to the niche filled by these stations. “These colleges seemed to think, ‘Well, no one will notice if we get rid of this anyway.’ Not true. It sort of boomeranged, and now we have both College Radio Day and High School Radio Day to promote its importance.”
He adds, “There is a misperception that college radio is yesterday’s thing.” This just isn’t true, he says.
Because some of CBI’s core participation comes from students and advisers involved with college radio, and serving himself as an adviser for the University of Pittsburgh’s own station, Weston has an insight into the status of college radio. He sees radio and its listeners as being increasingly technology-driven, and he also commented that the college radio market is especially well-suited for sports enthusiasts and music junkies.
He sees first-hand that there is still a lot of enthusiasm for the medium, even though the average student might not be listening “through a clock radio in their dorm room.” Weston emphasizes that students are increasingly mobile and that is informing their consumption of radio. “If you haven’t been on a college campus lately, you have no idea how much they’re on their phones,” he commented.
CBI will hold the first National Student Electronic Media Convention in Atlanta from Oct. 25–27 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel with the aim of addressing some of these concerns and educating students about the industry.
According to Weston, the conference is exciting because it is the first focusing exclusively on collegiate electronic media that the organization has hosted alone. “This is the first convention dedicated 100% to college broadcasting,” he said.
“We tried to have low expectations because it was the first time, but the response has been overwhelming. We keep having to up our hotel room block,” Weston said.
The conference is geared toward college students involved in radio, TV and Web/digital media, with a focus on integrating the three, he said. Weston is excited to expose students to different ways of promoting audience engagement, whether through video, building an effective website using blog platforms such as WordPress or social media.
Attendees will have the opportunity to not only learn from local professionals — “Atlanta is a great media hub,” Weston explained — but they will also be given a lot of chances to network with and learn from peers through panels and roundtable discussions.
Weston notes that as the technology changes, so must the industry; CBI hopes to equip students with the skills to take advantages of these changes.