College radio fights for recognition, funding

BY ERIC MOORE | OCTOBER 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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College radio has seen funds decline, and college radio stations across the nation are spreading awareness to try to change that.

More than 320 college radio stations, including KRUI, will encourage students throughout their broadcasts to appreciate their existence in a new project called College Radio Day today.

Robert Quicke, founder and president of College Radio Day and general manager of WPSC FM at William Paterson University, said he plans to make the project an annual effort, hoping to eventually help raise funds for participating college stations.

Former KRUI general manager Dolan Murphy, who got KRUI involved in the project, wrote a guest column for The Daily Iowan in September about the need for KRUI funding.

"The fact remains that something needs to change at this university, and students aren't the ones to do it, administrators are," Murphy wrote.

In April, KRUI requested an increase to $87,610 from the UI Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students. The council offered the station $52,801.

Without more funding, college radio stations could be forced to shut down, advocates say. UI journalism teaching assistant Etse Sikanku — who started his experience in radio broadcasting at a college station in Ghana — said journalism students would be "shortchanged" without the opportunity.

"[Radio stations] actually won't take you without that kind of campus experience," Sikanku said. "They feel more confident employing somebody who has had that experience."

While working at KRUI over the summer, he said, he saw a national trend in universities cutting funding for the stations.

Sikanku said because the UI has the reputation of having a good journalism school, the university should continue to invest in a wide array of journalism opportunities for students.

Murphy said the day allows broadcasters to tout the medium's importance. "We're all kind of enthusiastic about college radio as a medium," he said.

Participating stations can broadcast a 15- or 30-minute version of an audio message encouraging people to listen and appreciate their college radio station, Quicke said.

He said he came up with the idea for College Radio Day while watching The Social Network in December 2011.

"I remember watching that and thinking, 'I wish there was some kind of idea that we could have for college radio that would get everyone stoked,' " Quicke said. "I want people to realize that college radio's important, it's alive, it's thriving despite the fact that several radio stations have been sold off."

Quicke launched the organization's website in June.

Promotions director for the project Alyssa Hamade said the project for "the last free medium" relied on various forms of social media in promoting the day.

"In years past, it would have taken a lot more manpower," Hamade said. "We started out with three stations … after a while, it just kind of caught on."

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