What Will Happen to College Radio?

A rough period for student-run stations.


Stateside, a Michigan public radio program, recently spoke with me about the future of college radio. Here's an excerpt from their write-up:

"Tune that dial to the left, Johnny—the thrash-metal show should be on."
Radio World

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.

To read the rest—and to hear the actual interview, which was broadcast on Tuesday—go here. For my book on radio, which may help you understand the politics and economics underlying these battles, go here.