I saw an interesting post on PolicyMic recently by Adam Hogue, where he relates his transition from a college radio broadcaster at Keene State to becoming an NPR listener, like his (egad) father, and the general decline of Radio from its golden era. What jumped off the page to me were his views about how the future of radio seems to be college radio, because it best serves today’s youth. Here are some of the verbatim nuggets that appealed to me:
- All around America, there are stations that people take regional pride in. Most of these stations turn out to be college radio stations.
- The radio is communication. It is part of our communities, and as long as it continues to evolve with the communities, it will not die.
- College radio should be the local voice of local youth. While radio is rapidly losing the young listeners demographic (people ages 12 to 24), I believe that it is the job of college radio to be the community alternative for young people.
- College stations need to be out there in the community and they need to stay relevant with their fan-base in order to grow. Young people have time to listen if they are given a reason to.
- People should be able to listen to programs from anywhere and enjoy them. Today, radio has the power to be anywhere; it is no longer confined to a frequency alone.
- Radio stations need to play music, no matter what the music is, and have local personalities that bring people in and keep them loyal…radio should be a way to learn about new music or just listen to what people have to say about it.
- It helps that most college radio stations receive a solid amount of money from the school.… A problem occurs when the school sees radio as outdated or too costly, and the station is sold off to a community.
As I see it, this short list distills down to three main points we need to focus on in order to escape the death spiral that’s enveloping Commercial Radio. Our College Radio stations (IBS Student Radio Network stations and others) need to:
- Create compelling content to attract and hold onto loyal, repeat listeners,
- Become an active participant in the community, no matter where your listeners are tuning in from, and
- Become monetarily self-sufficient to keep from becoming a burden on their schools’ budgets.
We’re going to need some time to look at each of these points and create a plan of attack. There are other necessary improvement points, to be sure, and I’d like your input on those, as well.
I would like to invite comments, emails and blog posts from interested station managers and faculty advisors. I think it’s time we put our collective network heads together and establish an action plan with some guidelines for how we might go about making these improvements.