According to a recent headline, college radio is dying. With music libraries packed into smartphones, and laptops and websites like Spotify and Pandora, college students aren't listening to music in their dorms from a portable radio anymore.
So what’s the point of college radio? Should we save it?
Jesse Walker said he doesn’t think college radio is dying, it’s just going through a rough patch. He's a former DJ at WCBN, Ann Arbor’s student-run, community radio station. He’s also the author of “Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America.”
Walker said college radio is a place for students to get the education, experience, and freedom to take risks and explore the world of radio, an experience he says you can’t get in commercial radio. College radio is also a venue for underground artists and bands to get their music out.
But some college radio stations are being sold off to public radio stations, which takes away opportunities of exploration from the students.
“They are being sort of taken over by these public radio empires,” Walker said. “Often it's good radio, but it's radio that you can hear someplace else on the dial, which is not often the case with these college stations that are getting displaced.”
Walker said in order for college radio stations to stay relevant, stations must make sure they have a strong presence in the community and let students know they exist.
And he says if you can get your hands on a license, take it.
*Listen to the full interview above.
– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsrom