IBS Student Radio Network Election Coverage . . .

Be sure to tune into Fisk and Simmons College radio for their perspective on the election.

Fisk University WFSK logo88.1FM WFSK Presents:  Live Election Night Coverage of local, statewide & national races beginning right after the polls close at 7pm.  Co-Anchored by Sharon Kay and Ron Wynn, WFSK will present on the ground perspective from key battleground states such as Ohio, Wisconsin & Virginia.

Hear the excitement as the returns come in from around Tennessee and other states.  WFSK hopes you get a chance to tune in during the course of this historic election coverage.  They stream at www.wfskfm.org or on Dar.fm or TuneIn.

Simmons College will be covering the election also but with a bit more of a slant toward Massachusetts politics because there school is not far from Romney headquarters.  The stream at Simmons College Radio or on Dar.fm and TuneIn.

College Radio Has a Reason to Thrive…Let’s Work on How

Keene State College logoI 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.

IBS Student Radio Network underwriting opportunities

IBS LogoOver the years many of the members of the IBS Student Radio Network have asked about finding sponsors and underwriters for their shows, segments and stations.  This week we are launching a pilot program to work with some of the schools in finding underwriters and sponsors.

In the last year our stations have taken well over 1M listener connections.  As the school year progressed the audience engagement increased by over 50% as measured by the average length of a listener session.  Clearly the efforts of the schools to promote their stations and streams is making an impact.

Building off the success of the live events Backbone helped to power over the summer, from the HOT 97 Summer Jam in New York, to the Outside Lands in San Francisco to the recently concluded Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, we will start this year off with a bang by broadcasting the Jamaica Plain Music Fest on the Simmons and Emmanuel College station streams.  These streams are available in the TuneIn tuner.  For this weekend they will be at the top of the college radio section as a sponsored link.

The college demographic is clearly a target that sponsors and underwriters would like to reach.  What better way than through the campus taste makers of the college radio stations.  If you are interested in being a sponsor or underwriter please contact us at underwriting@studentradionetwork.org.

Radio Dying? Not on your life.

Skull Headphones CigaretteHow many times have you heard it: “Adapt or die”?  It sounds heartless, yet it poses the essential question of radio’s survival.  Is radio dying?  Nope, but it is going somewhere else, and not by itself.

Take the recurring news of disappearing stations, like this post from the Dialy Iowan, College Radio Fights for Recognition, Funding.  To summarize the article, it provides some color about what is happening at many campuses — funding is being cut for the radio station or that the school is selling off its terrestrial radio frequency. In these economic times, it must be difficult for an administration to pass up millions of dollars for an FM station that continues to be worth less as Internet radio starts to become dominant.

So, that raises the question of whether a school that agrees to sell off its terrestrial radio signal can actually support a broadcast journalism program. Well, it’s not only schools. All media are facing similar challenges and looking for the best ways to respond.

Throughout the industry, you can see signs of a growing creative trend: integrated media.  For example, one of our newest member schools, Lehman College, has integrated its Internet radio station presence into its online newspaper, the Bronx Journal.  Media integration such as this was a persistent theme we heard at the CMA conference in New York last month.

We are also seeing mixed modalities in the mainstream media.  None other than the esteemed Wall Street Journal has integrated video into its site.  The Boston Globe has its Globe 10.0 video.  Sports radio powerhouse WEEI in Boston now has both an online presence and video on its site.

We first wrote about this in our white paper, The New Breed of College (and High School) Internet Radio-Surviving the Dinosaur.  It is more apparent now.  Journalism isn’t dying, either.  It is transitioning to a new paradigm as radio becomes a big part of it.  With evolving convergence occurring on the Internet, a college, university or high school can reach a much larger audience than it has in the past, using a truly integrated media strategy.  It is the path to the future.  Embrace it.

Backbone at SxSW 2012, launches “Internet Radio Simplified”

There’s no event that’s more exhilarating than Austin’s South by Southwest, an annual festival that combines InteractiveMusic and Film, all tied together with the new, expanding Trade Show floor.  Of course, Backbone was right in the middle of it, demonstrating “Internet Radio Simplified” for the crowds.

SXSW Trade ShowNaturally, we were delighted being the only turnkey Internet radio station provider in the event, and even more pleased so often to hear “there’s nothing else like what Backbone does”. So that’s why we bring a mobile studio to these events, to show attendees how quickly and easily they can be on the air. And because everything they need for a remote broadcast fits into a backpack (Mac+mixer+mics), setup time is only a couple of minutes.

Backbone at SXSW 2012Our mission at SxSW was twofold:

We think we did pretty well on both counts.  We met student radio representatives from a number of large universities, all of whom voiced that being part of the IBS-SRN would be a major upgrade for their radio clubs.

On the partnership front, we can’t say too much here, but we’re continuing to make good progress for your Backbone-hosted station.  For example, in the area of delivery, not only is your station now available in both the TuneIn and iTunes radio tuners, but we expect to soon have your station become available on a new service that allows your listeners to actually record your shows for later listening, just like time shifting TV programs on your DVR.  We also met up with our friends from the Public Radio Exchange who tell us that they are getting quite a reception for their Public Radio Remix efforts that is available on XM/123, terrestrially and on the Internet.

From Texas we jumped on a plane and headed back to New York for the College Media Association’s NYC12 conference.  More on this soon.

Three College Radio Conferences in One Month. First, IBS in NYC

March has been a wonderful month of travel for Backbone, especially in support of the IBS Student Radio Network.  We put a lot of miles on our airline and Amtrak cards, hopping from New England to New York, to Texas and back to NYC, talking to students and media advisers at the IBS National ConferenceSouth by Southwest (SxSW) and the College Media Association’s NYC12 conference. I don’t have room to cover them all in this post, so I’ll just try to run through them one at a time in separate entries.

IBS NYC 2012
IBS LogoThe Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s annual National Conference at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania pulled in students and advisers from all over the country, the largest contingent being a dozen who flew in from Champs Charter High School in Los Angeles.  Champs’ AER station is currently the IBS-SRN’s most listened-to station, and with this kind of involvement, we can see why.  Plus, with so many compelling sessions running simultaneously, it takes a crew to cover them all adequately.

One thing we took away from this year’s conference is that we need another live broadcast position/station on our Radio Row, where students sign up for a 1-hour air shift on their own station or on the designated demo Internet radio station.  The signup sheet filled up in a very short period, and we want to accommodate all who are interested.

Because of the conference schedule, I didn’t personally get to see all of the live broadcasts, but the ones I did see were animated and great radio.  One of my favorites was the SUNY Fredonia onairFredonia group (pictured below) who jumped into the Backbone-driven Mac station for the first time and made it look like they were veterans of the system within a couple of minutes.  My other was the polished high school crew from Champs who interviewed Steely Dan’s guitarist Jon Herington and his band and persuaded them to do a live mini-concert for their AER audience.

We want to thank Cedric Watson and Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus (member station WLIU-BK) for hosting our annual pre-conference Network affiliates meeting. And thanks for giving all of the attendees a tour of your very cool facilities.  Of course, the meeting was followed by a tour of Brooklyn’s Junior’s Cheesecake across the street.

It was great to see representatives from so many of our stations’ schools, including Towson, CUNY Lehman, Baton Rouge’s Tara High School, College of the DesertSimmons College and so many more. Thanks to all who attended and participated, and we’ll see all of you at a regional IBS conference near you in the fall.

John Tesh and Connie Sellecca Donate to KCOD College Internet Radio

We’re proud to report that musician and radio personality John Tesh and his actress wife Connie Sellecca have generously donated broadcast hardware, Apple iMac computers and Backbone software & services to KCOD, the student-run radio station of The College of the Desert, in Palm Springs, CA.  The gift grew out of a panel discussion at the Dec. 3, 2011 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Conference in Los Angeles where Mr. Tesh was a panelist.

Tesh SelleccaWith this gift, KCOD, launched in the Spring of 2011, is the newest member station in the IBS Student Radio Network by Backbone (IBS-SRN).  The school notes that the station “has generated tremendous interest from students, broadcast professionals, potential sponsors, local politicians and the surrounding community.”  See more on the KCOD blog.
Listen to KCOD online.

From Wikipedia:
John Tesh is an American pianist and composer of pop music, as well as a radio host and television presenter. His 10-year-old ‘Intelligence for Your Life Radio Show‘ reaches 14.2 Million listeners/week, and is syndicated by Teshmedia on 400 stations in US, Canada, and the UK. Tesh has won six music Emmys, has four gold albums, two Grammy nominations, and an Associated Press award for investigative journalism. Tesh has sold over eight million records. His live concerts have raised more than $20 million for PBS. His NBC Basketball Theme has been hailed as one of the top three sports themes of all time. He is also known as the longtime co-host of the television program Entertainment Tonight. He has previously worked as a sportscaster for the Olympic Games, a news anchor and a reporter.

IBS Student Radio Network covers the NH Primary recap

Tuesday was the first in the nation primary held in New Hampshire.  It was a great day as Emma Bisogno from Simmons College Radio, Joseph Jack Horgan from Emmanuel College Radio and Leona Smith from Zumix Radio covered the event.  Elena Botkin-Levey, director of Zumix Radio was there to help everything run smoothly.  This is the first time the IBS Backbone Student Radio Network has covered a Presidential primary election.”  We’d like to thank Talkers Magazine for sponsoring radio row and for making it a great day.

Sununu with IBS-SRNHere is a summary video put together by Talkers Magazine on the event.  Many of the talkers would like us to look beyond entertainment and become engaged in the political process.  An interesting thing to note is how these talkers view their audience as a community.  The difference between twenty years ago and today is the number of tools that they can bring to bear to grow their community, network and footprint.  Twitter and Facebook are used in real time for audience feedback, questions, topics and even news items.

We have lots of pictures of the student radio network stations broadcasting from the event. There is also more on the topic as the lead article in today’s Talker’s magazine summary.

While there we caught up with Oliver Janney, the faculty advisor for Goucher College radio, while he was working the primary for CNN in Manchester.  Great job covering the primary!

What an outstanding on-the-job learning experience this proved to be! We’re proud that our member stations have such a ready reserve of talent to cover world class events like this.  We hope this is just the beginning for our stations and their unique network.

On to New Hampshire! Student Radio Network to cover the primary

GOP DebatesThe first caucus of the Presidential Election season is over in a photo finish with Mitt Romney barely squeaking out a victory over Rick Santorum with Ron Paul finishing a close third.  The race lost one participant, Michelle Bachmann, and it is now on to New Hampshire for the first primary of this election cycle.

Following up our recent efforts with Talkers Magazine we are heading up to New Hampshire to cover the primary.  We will have Emma Bisogno from Simmons College Radio, Joseph Jack Horgan from Emmanuel College Radio and a number of people from Zumix Radio to cover the event.  While there we hope to catch up with Oliver Janney who works for CNN and is the faculty advisor for Goucher College radio.

Listen in to their coverage and reporting on their stations or on other Student Radio Network stations.  It should be an interesting event.

Liz Claiborne Talkers Magazine Talk Radio Event

Talkers magazineBackbone and IBS-SRN member station hosts Nicole Murphy from WLIU-BK Brooklyn and Alyssa DiNubila from WNEK Spingfield, MA were part of TALKERS magazine “It’s Time to Talk Day” — a massive radio row raising awareness about Domestic Violence, produced in association with its sister firm, Talk Radio News Service, and the corporate sponsorship of Liz Claiborne, Inc.

Held last week (12/8/11) in the fashion showroom of the Midtown Manhattan corporate offices of Liz Claiborne, Inc., the ambitious event was one of the largest and most successful, bringing together more than 20 talk media hosts from around the country who broadcasted their shows live or recorded interviews for delayed broadcast.

Alyssa NicoleAlyssa and Nicole had the opportunity to interview Wanda Lucibello, Faranaz Rodriguez , Napur Argarwal, among others, during the two hour event and rebroadcast on their home stations and made available to all the stations on the Student Radio Network.  It is also content that can be replayed later on any of the stations on the network.

The event generates some press in Talkers Magazine.  For some additional photos of the event check out Matthew Harrison’s photo account of the event along with my own Flickr album of the event.

This was a great event for Backbone and members of the Student Radio Network because it emphasized the benefits of being part of our network and how easy it is to set up and run a live remote.  We anticipate doing a number of these in the future starting with a live remote from the NH primary early next month.  Watch for more on that in the near future.